Most children have trouble understanding the true meaning of the equal sign. As they get familiar with using calculators, stand alone or on their phones, they tend to think that the equal sign is an action button and triggers something that gives a conclusion.
This will lead to confusion or less understanding later in the math curriculum so it is important to pay attention to the correct words to use and and explanation of what the equal sign exactly represents.
Cambridge maths has an espresso view dedicated to it, see it in the link below.
The study evaluated the classification accuracy of: The Numeracy Screener, a 2‐min test of symbolic (Arabic numerals) and nonsymbolic (dot arrays) discrimination ability. A sample of 222 children who demonstrated persistent deficits (n = 55), inconsistent deficits (n = 51), or typical performance (n = 116) on standardized tests of math achievement over multiple observations was tested. The Numeracy Screener correctly classified children in all three groups. Notably, the symbolic condition has greater sensitivity in discriminating children with persistent DD from the other two groups. Screening tools that assess early numeracy skills may be promising for identifying children at risk for developing severe mathematical difficulties.
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