Teaching Young Children Mathematics

Teaching Young Children Mathematics

Teaching Young Children Mathematics

Teaching Young Children Mathematics

Synopsis

Children learn mathematics most effectively in contexts that are meaningful to them. In order to realize the potential of these contexts for fostering young children's mathematical learning, knowledge of mathematics as well as child development is the way to nurture and challenge children's thinking. Avoiding the debates surrounding "hands-on" learning vs. direct instruction, the author focuses on the value of different contexts for learning and illustrates ways to genuinely engage children as active learners. The work is rich with examples of children's interactions with each other and with adults as they utilize and extend their understanding of mathematics. Examples and guidelines for developing lessons and activities will be useful for both educators and parents.

Excerpt

The text of this book grows out of this author's unending effort to increasingly understand the complex elements that bind teaching and learning, in this case related to mathematics. As a novice teacher, first with four-year-olds, followed by three-, five-, six-year-olds and on up, I discovered there is no one route to connecting with learners. While they offer a number of windows through which we may view their learning base—that is, their knowledge, understandings, skills, and beliefs—translating that information into plans for teaching and learning is very complicated. The other part of this professional challenge, I discovered, was my own limited understanding of the curriculum content. Although, by conventional standards, I was an excellent mathematics student all through my school years, I never really engaged in mathematical thinking until I participated in an advanced graduate course in elementary school mathematics. Only then did light bulbs flash, and I became excited about this new world I was discovering. When I began working with teachers, I realized they, too, were struggling with the same set of challenges.

My search led me to think about what children are learning when they get involved in an activity of their own choosing. What mathematics patterns are they discovering, and what skills are they using? Equally important was the answer to the question, [How do I know?] I began to understand that there are many faces to an emerging discovery of mathematical relationships and patterns within an event, and I found myself dwelling on the common knowledge that is bedded in different activities.

In this book, I have focused on bringing to life ideas about mathematics teaching and learning by sharing with readers many classroom expe-

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