Some fundamental ideas in the development of mathematical skillsamong the very young
In the book ‘Good Start to Numeracy’ Doig, McCrae and Rowe (2003:5), observes that learning numeracy by young children is essential indeveloping their thinking capacity at early age. As such there isneed for an effective pedagogical approach in teaching young childrenmathematical skills. The authors argues that numeracy is more thanstudying numbers and should be aimed at developing children’s’cognitive, social and emotional growth (Doig, McCrae and Rowe 2003:7). In the book, the authors’ points out that a good mathematicalfoundation for young children is based on enhancing children’sability to represent, reason, manipulate and solve problems. Goodnumeracy learning should start at home where parents or guardiansplay important role in fostering children development. Doig, McCraeand Rowe 2003: 8) explains that the five years that children spend athome are critical in facilitating child learning ability in school.
Basic numeracy understanding is present in young children under threeyears and thus teachers are required to enhance these skills throughsimple addition and subtraction mathematics. The authors argues thateffective numeracy teaching for young children aged below three yearsshould be facilitated through parent involvement program (Doig,McCrae and Rowe 2003: 12). After parents have engaged the children inbasic numeracy skills, the teachers’ role is to build on this basicnumeracy skills for more advanced mathematic learning. To this end,the authors overall argument is that School curriculums formathematics teaching for young children aged below three years shouldhave a collaboration of teachers and parents program. In this case,teachers should help parents implement teaching of basic numeracyskills to children while at home. Doig, McCrae and Rowe (2003: 3)suggest the use of play as an important part of teaching childrenbasic numeracy skills. In this case, parents and teachers shoulddesign effective play games that involve counting objects andcomparing sizes. At home, parents should use simple geometricalfigures, teach kids, naming, drawing, counting, division and summingobjects. Sandpit argues that while technology may be effective inexpanding kids’ numeracy skills, sometimes it may complicatelearning. However, if affordable, technology is good is teachingyoung kids cognitive, problem solving, investigations, understandingand exploration.
In the book, ‘Developing play for the under 3s’ Hughes explainsthat in order to enhance numeracy learning for he under 3s,caregivers should develop a ‘heuristic play’ that enhances kidsto learn numeracy skills easier. In part, Hughes argues that babieslearn through attention and plays form important strategies ofenhancing kids’ numeracy learning (Hughes 2010: 13). Hughessuggests that caregivers should have wide range of materials thatfacilitates child play. As the baby sensory and physical developmenttakes shape, caregivers should use play items to teach the young kidshow to count, add and draw (Hughes 2010:27).
Hughes suggests a ‘treasure basket’ that contains play things forenhancing kid’s attention to examine, mouth, handle and shake(Hughes 2010: 33). The objects should be safe and easy to handle.Hughes further argues that caregivers should have a collection ofdifferent color, tastes, smell, temperature and weight to enhancekid’s cognitive ability (Hughes 2010: 26). In addition, it isimportant to provide a serene environment in which the kid canconfidently explore the play objects. Later, as the toddler gets usedand learns to play with the objects, the caregiver should design aheuristic play that enhances the kid’s numeracy skills throughcounting, summing, dividing and equating (Hughes 2010: 67). It isvital for the caregiver to arrange the play items attractively at thestart of the play to enhance the child attention. Hughes furthersuggests that during the play, the caregiver should respond to thetoddler’s curiosity and interest. In this way, as the kid learns todifferentiate the objects, the caregiver helps the toddle incounting, summing and drawing (Hughes 2010:70). The heuristic play isan important aspect in fostering language development that in turnleads to numeracy learning capacity for the toddlers under 3 years.
Hughes Anita. 2010. M. Developing Play for the Under 3s: The TreasureBasket and the Heuristic Play. New York: Routledge Publishers. P.13-31, 61-72.
Doig Brian, McCrae and Rowe Ken. 2003. A Good Start to Numeracy:Effective Numeracy Strategies from Research and Practice in EarlyChildhood. Commonwealth of Australia. P. 5-20.