Harmony between Turkish Early Childhood and Primary Mathematics Education Standards*

Article excerpt

Abstract

The aim of this study was to explore the spiral relation and the congruency between mathematics standards listed in the Early Childhood and First Grade curricula in Turkey. A descriptive content analysis was conducted on Early Child Education Curriculum (OÖEP) for 36-72 months old children and Math Curriculum for the Grades 1-5 (IMÖP), both prepared by Turkish Ministry of Education. Results revealed the inadequacy of OÖEP in its provision of showing clear linkages between early math skills and future learnings despite the statements made for the importance of schools readiness in its texts; and complete disregard for early math education and school readiness in IMÖP. The ratio of spiral design established between OÖEP and first grade standards was only 51%, pinpointing the need for a revision of almost half of the first grade standards in IMÖP. These findings show the importance of collaborative work between early childhood and elementary math educators in the processes of curriculum development.

Key Words

Early Childhood Curriculum, Elementary Mathematic Education Curriculum, Spiral Design, Readiness.

Early years (age 0-6) set the stage for the fastest development in all areas of human development. Research shows that 50% of cognitive development occurs within the first four years of age followed by a 30% increase between the ages 4-8 (Shonkoff& Phillips, 2000). Positive effects of early education on life quality of individuals have been proven to be an empirical fact (Administration for Children & Families [ACF], 2002, 2006; Barnett, 1995; Campbell & Ramey, 1994; Entwisle & Alexander, 1998; Gomby et al., 1995; Halle et al., 2009; National Association for the Education of Young Children [NAEYC], 2009, 2010; O'Brien Caughy, Dipietro, & Strobino, 1994; Phillips, Voran, Kisker, Howes, & Whitebook, 1994; Polat, 2009; Türk Sanayicileri ve Isadamlari Dernegi [TÜSIAD], 2005, 2006; Yoshikawa, 1995). Quality and intensive early childhood education provide long lasting gains in cognitive, social, and emotional development especially for children from disadvantaged groups. Research shows that provision of a comprehensive early intervention is the most effective means to end educational disparities in society. Children who received quality early intervention stay in school longer, are more likely to finish high school, less likely to repeat grades and placed in special education.

These research findings have motivated many governments to invest in early childhood education. Consequently, schooling rates for the ages 3-6 has reached %100 in some developed countries (Bulletin Officiel de l'Education Nationale [BO], 2008; Information in Education Systems and Policies in Europe [EURYDICE], 2009, 2010a, 2010b; Ministère des Affaires Etrangères [MAE], 2007; Organisation for Economic Co-operation and Development [OECD], 2001, 2004; TÜSIAD, 2005; United Nations Educational, Scientific and Cultural Organization International Bureau of Education [UNESCO], 2006). It was a long-awaited development that Turkish Ministry of Education (MEB) has finally embarked on a big scale initiative to increase access to early education and included kindergarten education within the mandatory education years (Milli Egitim Bakanligi [MEB], 2011). Currently, 61% of five year olds are placed in kindergarten classes. However, schooling rates for children under five are still disappointing. Only 4% of 3-4 year olds and 17% of 4-5 year olds are receiving preschool education (Deretarla Gül, 2012). There are also regional and class disparities in enrollments.

Language, early literacy, mathematics, social, emotional, and cognitive skills gained in early childhood programs are significant predictors of future academic achievement of individuals (Campbell & Ramey, 1994; Entwisle & Alexander, 1998; NAEYC, 2009; O'Brien Caughy et al., 1994; Starkey, Spelke, & Gelman, 1983). There is strong empirical evidence that children's mathematics skills develop much earlier and more complex than Piaget and other cognitive development theoreticians have estimated (Aubrey, 1993; Baroody, Lai, Li, & Baroody, 2009; Charlesworth & Lind, 1999; Davies & Walker, 2008; Flavell, Miller, & Miller, 1993; Ginsburgh & Seo, 1999; Griffin, 2004; Starkey, Klein, & Wakeley, 2004; Wynn, 1992). …