Tuesday, September 2, 2014

Early Math—Making the Time

For the past couple of weeks, we’ve been talking about a newly-released guide from the US Department of Education Institute of Education Sciences entitled Teaching Math to Young Children.  They provide 5 recommendations for teaching math to young children.  The first recommendations are to “teach number and operations using a developmental progression”, “teach geometry, patterns, measurement, and data analysis using a developmental progression,” to “use progress monitoring to ensure that math instruction builds on what each child knows,” and to “teach children to view and describe their world mathematically.” This week, we will talk about the fifth and final recommendation, to “dedicate time each day to teaching math, and integrate math instruction throughout the school day.”

Up to this point, we have seen the numbers, operations, and concepts children need to understand to help them explore and explain their world, how to make sure that each student is acquiring these concepts and making sure they can apply these concepts to real life.  We now move to our own awareness of the use of math throughout the curriculum and making sure that we seize opportunities to teach math whenever we can.

The recommended strategies for setting aside dedicated time for teaching math daily and integrating math instruction throughout the school day include:
  • Have a set plan for daily math instruction.  This can be done in both large groups and small groups.
  • Include math in routines and daily activities.  During morning circle time, we can discuss “We have 8 boys here today and 10 girls here.  We have 18 children all together.”
  • Point out math across the curriculum.  In a science lesson, we can find and describe patterns we find in nature.  In art, we can talk about what shapes we find in a particular work of art.
  • Create a math-rich environment.  Include items like blocks, foam shapes, different colored beads and cubes, measuring materials (ruler, scale, measuring cups), and sorting bins.
  • Play math games.

For more information and suggestions on implementing these recommendations, check out the guide at: http://ies.ed.gov/ncee/wwc/pdf/practice_guides/early_math_pg_111313.pdf#page=18

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