Hello and welcome to my blog on early mathematics! I am very excited to share my “Aha” moments with you this year as I read, learn, and see firsthand how young children come to know math.
Why am I so passionate about early mathematics? I have been an educator for 27 years with 20 of those years focused on school readiness. As an administrator, I was committed to supporting teachers to provide a developmentally appropriate program that will prepare the child for kindergarten and beyond. Most importantly, I strongly believe that learning should be done through intentional play and engaging activities. I found this to be a balancing act for teachers as they were having to implement lesson plans, assess the children to meet program requirements, and to meet the daily ongoing needs of 3-5 year olds and their families.
After years of overseeing programs and being on the implementation side of early learning programs and a total of 25 years in the state education system, I was fortunate to join the team at the AIMS Center for Math and Science Education. Now in my second year as a research associate, I am taking the time to understand the existing research on how children “come to know” their mathematical knowledge and how it impacts their future academic performance.
In 2008, our former Fresno County Superintendent of Schools, Larry L. Powell stated that “children who start behind, stay behind” and that preschool would help close the achievement gap. Across the nation, early learning programs rightfully focused on early literacy skills and social emotional skills. Here’s my AHA moment that occurred just last year and why I am so passionate to share with the early learning community: early mathematics matters.
In 2007, Dr. Greg Duncan noted that school-entry math knowledge is TWICE as likely as school-entry reading knowledge to indicate K-8 math AND reading success. As a follow-up study in 2011, Dr. Duncan noted the K-5 MATH achievement is the most powerful predictor of future educational attainment, inclusive of high school completion and college attendance.
Early mathematics addresses the equity gap so we would think that early learning programs would focus on intentional early mathematics concepts. This would include discussing the concepts of larger or smaller, longer or shorter, counting a collection, and asking how many and discovering the answer together in informal conversation that builds on the child’s knowledge. So, how much time is spent on intentional math experiences?
More than 50%? No.
More than 25%? Unfortunately, no.
Surely, more than 10%? No, again.
It must be more than 5% No, it isn’t.
Wow, so what is the amount if it isn’t even 5%? In a study by Vanderbilt University researchers Farran, Fuhs and Turner, it is 2.5%. Yes, only 2.5% is the percentage of the preschool day spent on intentional math experiences. Just even an increase to 4% has been shown to increase the child’s learning trajectory.
Follow my blog for more “Aha” moments and remember to do the math!