The author of Early Math in Illinois: Recognizing and Raising the Profile, Dr. Sallee Beneke, describes the ways in which opportunities to learn math are limited for many young children. Think about your own work and consider if any of these apply to you.
1. There is little time devoted to math learning. If you look at the overall breakdown of your day, how much time is spent expressly in math-focused activity?
2. There are few experiences for children where math is the primary goal. Take each activity/lesson you are planning for next week. How many of them have math as their primary goal?
3. Math still tends to be incidental, rather than intentional. Do you ever look back at an interaction or activity and realize afterward that mathematical thinking was happening, but it wasn’t planned; it just happened?
4. Lessons tend to elicit what children already know. I often see this in the early childhood classroom. The math that is taking place is repetitive and the children already know it. How are you scaffolding children’s prior knowledge so that the math learning goes deeper?
5. The math that is currently happening does not build key foundational skills and processes. Can you name a mathematical foundational skills? What is a math process?
6. “Doing calendar is NOT doing Math.” (Bredekamp) When asked how you support math in your program, do you describe the daily calendar as the center of your math activity? If so, you need to rethink what you are doing and how you are doing it.
So… are these limiting factors also limiting you?