The Role of Working Memory in Early Literacy and Numeracy Skills in Kindergarten and First Grade

Marina Shvartsman, Shelley Shaul

Research output: Contribution to journalArticlepeer-review


The working memory system supports learning processes such as acquiring new information and the development of new skills. Working memory has been found to be related to both early literacy and early numeracy in kindergarten and to linguistic and mathematical academic skills at older ages, but the contribution of each of the memory components at these ages is not yet clear. The purpose of this study is to examine the unique connections among the various systems of WM, early literacy, and early numeracy using various assessment tests of simple WM and complex WM, as well as a variety of tasks in math and language skills administered to the same 250 children in kindergarten and 150 children in first grade. Consistent with the predictions, significant relations among all components of memory and mathematics and language knowledge at both ages were found, although these connections were differential for the different types of tasks and memory systems. The connection of complex WM was stronger in its contribution and more significant in first grade in both mathematics and language domains. Complex WM resources were more important in early literacy at kindergarten age, while simple WM seems to be important in early numeracy. The theoretical and educational implications of these results are discussed accordingly.

Original languageEnglish
Article number1285
Issue number8
StatePublished - 26 Jul 2023

Bibliographical note

Publisher Copyright:
© 2023 by the authors.


  • early literacy
  • early numeracy
  • first grade
  • kindergarten
  • working memory

ASJC Scopus subject areas

  • Pediatrics, Perinatology, and Child Health


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