Engaging Young Children in Mathematics: Standards for Early Childhood Mathematics Education

Engaging Young Children in Mathematics: Standards for Early Childhood Mathematics Education

Engaging Young Children in Mathematics: Standards for Early Childhood Mathematics Education

Engaging Young Children in Mathematics: Standards for Early Childhood Mathematics Education


Engaging Young Children in Mathematics: Standards for Early Childhood Mathematics Education brings together the combined wisdom of a diverse group of experts involved with early childhood mathematics. The book originates from the landmark 2000 Conference on Standards for Prekindergarten and Kindergarten Mathematics Education, attended by representatives from almost every state developing standards for young children's mathematics; federal government officials; mathematicians; mathematics educators; researchers from mathematics education, early childhood education, and psychology; curriculum developers; teachers; policymakers; and professionals from organizations, such as the National Conference of Teachers of Mathematics and the National Association for the Education of Young Children. The main goal of the Conference was to work collectively to help those responsible for framing and implementing early childhood mathematics standards. Although it has its roots in the Conference, the expanded scope of the standards and recommendations covered in this book includes the full range of kindergarten to grade 2. The volume is organized into two main parts and an online appendix (http://www.gse.buffalo.edu/org/conference/). Part One, Major Themes and Recommendations, offers a framework for thinking about pre-kindergarten-grade 2 mathematics education and specific recommendations. Part Two, Elaboration of Major Themes and Recommendations, provides substantive detail regarding young students' understandings of mathematical ideas. Each Part includes five parallel subsections: "Standards in Early Childhood Education"; "Math Standards and Guidelines"; "Curriculum, Learning, Teaching, and Assessment"; "Professional Development"; and "Toward the Future: Implementation and Policy." As a whole the book: presents comprehensive summaries of research that provide specific guidelines for standards, curriculum, and teaching; takes the recent reports and recommendations for early childhood mathematics education to the next level; integrates practical details and research throughout; and provides a succinct, but thorough review of research on the topics, sequences, and learning trajectories that children can and should learn at each of their first years of life, with specific developmental guidelines that suggest appropriate content for each topic for each year from 2-year-olds to 7-year-olds. This is an indispensable volume for mathematics educators, researchers, curriculum developers, teachers and policymakers, including those who create standards, scope and sequences, and curricula for young children and professional teacher development materials, and students in mathematics education, early childhood trainers, teacher educators, and faculty in mathematics education.


The turn of the century has seen a dramatic increase in attention to the mathematics education of young children. This book is the result of a unique gathering of a diverse group of professionals involved with early childhood mathematics. In this preface, we describe this recent focus of attention, the conference that brought the professionals together to discuss critical issues in early mathematics education, and the result of their collaborative work—this book. Thus, this book includes the combined wisdom of experts, including mathematicians, mathematics educators, researchers, curriculum developers, teachers, and policymakers regarding the mathematics education of our nation's youngest learners.


Why is there such a surge of attention to mathematics in early childhood? First, increasing numbers of children attend early care and education programs. In 1999, 70% of 4-year-olds and 93% of 5-year-olds were enrolled in preprimary education, up from 62% and 90%, respectively, in 1991 (U. S. Department of Education, 2000, p. 7). Several states are instituting universal prekindergarten education, with about 1 million students enrolled in 1999, and that number is increasing (Hinkle, 2000). Various government agencies, federal and state, provide financial support for prekindergarten programs designed to facilitate academic achievement, particularly in low-income children.

Second, there is an increased recognition of the importance of mathematics (Kilpatrick, Swafford, & Findell, 2001). In a global economy with the vast majority of jobs requiring more sophisticated skills than in the past, American educators and business leaders have expressed strong concern about students' mathematics achievement (these concerns are echoed in international comparisons of mathematics achievement; see Mullis et al., 1997). Furthermore, the mathematics achievement of American students compares unfavorably with the achievement of students from several other nations, even as early as kindergarten. Some cross-national differences in informal mathematics knowledge appear as early as 4 to 5 years of age (see Klein & Starkey, chap. 14, this volume).

Third, differences are not just between nations. Cross-cultural differences within the United States raise troubling equity concerns: “Children from different sociocultural backgrounds enter elementary school at different levels of readiness for a standards-based mathematics curriculum” (Klein & . . .

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