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Beyond Rote Skills: Math All Around Us
July 20, 2022
Tal vez sea verdad: que un corazón es lo que mueve el mundo” ("Maybe it's true: that a heart is what moves the world.
-Dámaso Alonso, Spanish poet, 1898-1990

“When it comes to explicitly nurturing math, future school success depends more on the quality than the quantity of early math instruction (Cerezci, 2020). In other words, 0- to 5-year-olds thrive as the result of authentic, engaging opportunities to explore the math that is all around them. They also need to have important others encourage and celebrate their discoveries with comments that bring out the math,” write Mary Hynes-Berry, Jie-Qi Chen, and Barbara Abel, in a Bridging Research and Practice article included in the newest Exchange Essentials, “Playful Approaches to Math.”

The authors continue, “What [young children] do not need are impersonal screen activities, however ‘educational’ they claim to be. Not only do they deprive children of personal interactions that build our brains, but brain imaging also shows they tend to shut down the prefrontal cortex where thinking takes place. Similarly, drills and activities that call for ‘right answers right away’ are stressful for children, as well as adults. Such harmful, stress-inducing strategies in the early years can carry over into later life, including negative attitudes and beliefs about math (National Scientific Council on the Developing Child, 2012; Lally & Mangione, 2017).”

The Aotearoa New Zealand Ministry of Education early years curriculum Te Wh?riki affirms this approach, stating, “It is when children have numerous opportunities to see themselves as powerful and competent mathematical learners that the curriculum can justly be called effective…Positive attitudes are more likely when children’s mathematical learning begins as informal and intuitive learning, influenced by the culture and experiences they are growing up in.”

New Exchange Essentials

Playful Approaches to Math

This practical, joyful collection of articles offer strategies for infusing early childhood environments and activities with mathematical thinking, through inquiry-based projects and real world exploration.


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