Early Childhood Mathematics Intervention
Young children have a great capacity to learn mathematical skills. Children as young as Pre kindergarten age and into the primary grades have a lot of potential in learning, especially when it comes to math. Many times children are not granted the opportunities to be immersed in mathematics. These children are lacking in the chances to engage in math and hone in on their skills. Many children begin school and are already behind their well advanced peers when it comes to mathematics. A lot of these children have a pre set negative trajectory for mathematics because they were not shown at home how mathematics is necessary as well as beneficial. Mathematical learning can be facilitated. Many interventionists have worked on ways to provide children with opportunities to experience math in positive ways beginning from early childhood. These interventions work especially for children aged three to five years of age and it has a solid, profound effect on them in their school years ahead when it comes to math.
Often times these young children have potential to learn sophisticated math, complex math, math that involves steps and patterns. Many times, they are over looked and their potential is left unrealized by educators, parents, and others in their lives. There is so much that we all can gain by engaging children into mathematics and giving them the benefit of the doubt that they can achieve many great things when awarded the opportunity to do so. Research based early childhood interventions exist that actually increase the mathematical knowledge of children.
Thinking in mathematical terms is cognitively foundational. The knowledge of mathematics for pre kindergarten aged children determines their success for their upcoming school years. Not all children have the opportunities to develop the cognitive foundations. Children from low income areas that are six can have less understanding of math than a child who is three years old and from a middle class to moderate family upbringing. Although both groups of children may have informal experiences with different quantitative situations, those from low-resource communities may often have fewer opportunities reflect on and represent the situations using cognitive tools, from verbal language, manipulatives, to finger patterns. For one example, children from low income families perform similarly on mathematics problems which involve physical objects but often they do not have the resources needed to thrive.
High-quality education can help children to think mathematically. Without such education that begins in preschool, too many children, especially from low-resource and low-income communities follow a long path of failure in mathematics. However, early childhood classrooms these days do not provide enough or any at all high-quality mathematics experiences for young children. Many children learn little over the course of an entire school year and even some children regressing on certain skills.
To improve mathematics learning for all young children, and especially to focus on and address inequalities that are faced by children from low-resource communities, developers have designed research-based interventions. These interventions positively affect children’s competencies in mathematics and beyond into other subject areas. One program (intervention) is described below.
One program, The Rightstart program was developed and theorized that children separately build initial counting competencies, intuitive ideas of quantity comparison, and initial notions of change such as groups become larger, smaller etc. and that the integration of these separate ideas forms a central conceptual structure for number. With this conclusion on this basis, activities were designed to help children build each of the separate competence and then to integrate them. This program improved young children’s knowledge of numbers, which supported their learning of more complex mathematics throughout the first grade. In a 3-year longitudinal study, children from low income and low resource communities who were able to experience the program from kindergarten surpassed both a second low-resource group and a mixed-resource group who showed a higher initial level of performance and who attended a magnet school with an enriched mathematics curriculum.
In conclusion, it is learned that mathematics is cognitively foundational, with early mathematics competence a strong predictor of later school success. It is imperative that children are exposed and engaged in mathematics that challenges them to think and creative. When given certain opportunities, children will thrive. Just because children are very young does not mean they should be overlooked when it comes to math. Their capabilities have been proven. Their minds need to be molded. Young children have the potential to learn mathematics that is both deep and broad meaning that it is more than puzzles in preschool and simple rote counting. It is on a much deeper level. When provided with goals and tools and tricks to help strive and surpass them, children will amaze us. For many, especially those from low-resource communities, this potential has been unrealized and this causes huge problems such as an education gap and it is a predictor of learning in years to come. We need to unbound their potentials and not look beyond them. Structured, research-based mathematics interventions have shown to be effective in helping all children from everywhere learn mathematics. Evidence supports interventions that provide foundational and mathematical experiences in number, space, geometry, measurement, and the processes of mathematical thinking. All in all, young children are wired for mathematics. We can help grow their abilities or we can suppress them. It is up to us. It is shown when they are provided with time and tools that they can achieve. We can give them that. They are the future so we are counting on them in reality.
Danielle Loor M.Ed
EDU 441 – Methods and Materials for Teaching Mathematics