MATHEMATICS FOR THE CURIOUS
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Part I: Mathematics Everyday and Everywhere
Part II: Mathematics Content for Young Children

Connections to Home

 I think, at a child’s birth, if a mother could ask a fairy godmother to endow it with the most useful gift, that gift would be curiosity. — Eleanor Roosevelt 

“What did you do at school today?”  

  

“Nothing.”

  

“What was your favorite part of the day?” 

  

 

 “All of it.” 

  

 This is a common exchange between parents and children of all ages, but for parents of prekindergarten and kindergarten children, it creates anxiety. Parents of prekindergarten and kindergarten children, are often nervous about their children’s well-being and success in their early years. They want to know the details of what their children are experiencing at school and how to support their children’s learning at home. Communicating with families and helping them foster a love of mathematics learning at home can occur in a variety of ways through one-on-one conversations, newsletters, bulletin boards, blogs, parent nights, take-home activity kits, and so on.

  

Activities for the Home

  

Providing parents with a few activity ideas each week can help them recognize the mathematics that they can do at home with their children (see Burton and Baum 2009; Fernández 2008; Kritzer 2007). For example, parents can help children notice the shapes of traffic signs, count the stairs going up and count them going down, help count or measure ingredients for snacks or in baking, provide different bottles and containers in the bathtub, or point to the rules for sorting and putting away the laundry. Have a ready list of ideas to share.

Board and card games, in particular, often make a remarkable difference in ensuring children receive the repeated experiences they need for many early number concepts. Traditional games that involve finding matching cards or pairs (e.g., Concentration and Go Fish) can be used, adapted, and extended (Kline 1999). Providing parents with response sheets lets you collect feedback on the games they found useful and also keeps the lines of communication open between home and classroom. 

  

Homework for Young Children

  

Take-home activities not only support children’s learning through hands-on and active engagement, they can also help parents become familiar with the philosophy and expectations for early mathematics learning.  Home kits or backpack activities can include children’s literature and sorting, patterning, counting, comparing, and measuring activities using inexpensive items such as buttons, craft sticks, and paper clips. You might even consider giving homework that includes active investigations in which parents and children engage in mathematics together—activities such as counting the number of steps from one room of the house to another (Seo and Bruk 2003). While the learning that occurs at home is important, so are the interactions between teachers and parents as parents share their observations of their children’s learning.  

  

Parents in the Classroom

  

Inviting parents into the classroom is also an important way to open the channels of communication. Parents may come in as volunteers to help with small group activities or to describe how they use numbers in their work, or, as Gear (2012) describes, teachers may ask parents to provide an orientation to their community, and then develop mathematical activities that are responsive to the cultural heritage of the residents. This not only demonstrates respect but also shows the relevancy of mathematics to everyday life. Involving families in the mathematical experiences of their children provides an important opportunity to extend learning out of the classroom and into the home. Providing parents with suggestions of games and activities for their children that develop children’s early mathematical thinking through hands-on and engaging activities can also spark parents’ curiosity and reignite a sense of mathematics wonder about the world around them. 

 

 

 


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