Teaching Early Math: Exciting, Hands-On and Engaged Learning
These 4 year-olds are learning to enjoy math as they run circles, jump squares and fly like an airplane. They are learning about their place in the room and the space around them. They measure, count, build, do puzzles, see relationships, and cook. When taught joyfully, the concepts will lay the foundation for future math learning.
At the sixth annual Together for Kindergarten Community Forum, family child care providers, pre-school, transitional kindergarten (TK) and kindergarten teachers and administrators, gathered together with a commitment to help every child get off to a strong start in school. Organized by the Santa Cruz County Office of Education and its Childhood Advisory Council, the goal of the event was to bring the spectrum of educators together so that children and families experience a continuum of learning. Both fields learn from each other and value the expertise each perspective shares. This year’s focus was on math to support children enjoying learning math and building an enthusiasm for it.
Experts illustrated how the California Preschool Learning Foundations are aligned to the Kindergarten Common Core Standards. Linda Cochran, CA Preschool Instructional Network, (CPIN) and Frances Basich Whitney, Pajaro Valley Unified School District, discussed how children are wired for math at a very young age and if teachers and families show children that math is fun, they will be prepared for future math learning. They presented information on how young children progress from using math in their everyday lives to making sense of problems and solving them. Attendees were given examples and strategies on how teachers and families might help children build on what they know and guide them toward new concepts.
To learn more about CPIN and the Kindergarten Common Core State Standards, both presenters have graciously shared their presentations:
Former State Superintendent Delaine Eastin spoke to the crowd of 200 attendees and addressed why early math is important and why standards are necessary.
“The new emphasis on standards is important and is what high performing nations around the world are doing, because what gets measured is what gets done. But we must also not be too focused on testing, testing, testing. Why—because you do not fatten a hog by weighing it more often. Learning should be joyful, hands-on and engaging. Math is marvelous and should be fun. That happens by learning math and measurement in the garden, in the kitchen, with dice, with cards, with games and with joy. We can sing about numbers and dance about numbers and make numeracy fun, especially with the wee ones.”
Her passionate speech earned her a standing ovation as she urged the State of California to invest in education.
“California, which was near the top in per pupil spending in the 1960’s, has now plummeted to 46th, in this, the most expensive state in the union. And we have not just shortchanged K-12, we have taken hundreds of millions from preschool and child development as well as from higher education. Even as our research points dramatically to the learning curve from birth to age 5, we are skimping there, in a particularly dramatic fashion and in direct conflict with where our research would direct us to do, if we paid attention.”
After the event she told organizers,
“Thank you again for inviting me to speak to such an inspiring assemblage. It is gatherings like this of real heroes, doing the heavy lifting to take us into the future, that inspire me. That and the children themselves… who have such hope and optimism.”
For resources on early math:
Q&A with Deborah Stipek: Building Early Math Skills
For more information please contact Carole Mulford at (831) 466-5821.
Read about the Together for Kindergarten Community Forum 2014.