So often the news publishes articles highlighting a lack of interest or ability with girls and math. Here at Belle River, these two young Bucs choose to play with numbers during their play based learning time.
It has long been acknowledged that there is a strong link between play and learning for young children, especially in the areas of problem solving, language acquisition, literacy, numeracy, and social, physical, and emotional skills. Young children actively explore their environment and the world around them through a process of learning-based play. When children are manipulating objects, acting our roles, or experimenting with various materials, they are engaged in learning through play. Play, therefore, has a legitimate and important role in early learning and can be used to further children’s learning in all areas of the Full-Day Early Learning-Kindergarten program.
It is important that we recognize the young child as someone who has already learned a great deal about math independently. The learning has taken place because the child was able to manipulate materials, to observe the results of the actions, and to think about the meaning of the observations at their own level of understanding. If we recognize that the child has made tremendous strides in learning before entering school, it makes sense to consider setting up an environment similar to the home setting. Introducing props such as cash registers and play money in the home centre provides children with opportunities to think about how math is used in everyday life. Learning experiences in mathematics should be hands-on and embedded in an authentic context. Children should be encouraged to reason, investigate ideas, extend understanding, reflect, and make generalizations. They should also be encouraged to begin to represent their mathematical understandings in ways that are meaningful to them. Some children may begin to represent their thinking on paper, often using pictures and/or numbers and some words; others may use concrete materials. Generic worksheets, however, should not be used; they are rarely effective because their focus is narrow and they provide only limited assessment information on the children’s level of understanding.