Kathy is a colleague, friend, and the primary recipient of the Early Math Counts grant, which makes her my boss in this endeavor!
Kathy has the benefit of hindsight as her children are mostly grown and she has worked in the field of early childhood education, in one capacity or another, for eons. I appreciate how positive her responses are even though each of her children had vastly different early childhood experiences.
1. Please describe how you are involved in the field of education.
I am a professor, researcher, teacher and college administrator.
2. How many children do you have and how old are they?
I have 4 children and they are 18, 22, 25 and 31
3. Describe your children’s early childhood experiences. Did they stay at home with a family member? Did they attend preschool or childcare? Did they attend a home-based childcare program, or a combination of the above? (If your children have not yet entered a childcare setting, please answer these questions for the future, i.e., What do you hope your children’s math experiences will be? What are your plans for introducing math to your children at home?)
My children all had different experiences because they are between 3 and 6 years apart in age. Some got me as a stay at home Mom while I attended graduate school (and had a childcare person come to the house sometimes daily, sometimes part-time and sometimes as needed), others attended preschool part-time, some full-time, some were in my own preK classroom when I worked. Some had the lovely advantage of having au pairs who lived with us.
4. Describe your children’s exposure to math in their prekindergarten years both at home and at school.
My children had many “math manipulatives” in the house and I played games with them, let them explore, taught them and emphasized mathematical thinking such as before, after, more, less, greater, less than, plus, minus etc. They also played school together a lot and practiced their “math”. Their schools were often university laboratory schools and Montessori schools and were well versed on not only providing a positive environment for mathematical literacy, but actually “teaching and guiding” math learning.
5. Knowing what you now know about raising and educating children, what worked well in your children’s early math experiences?
I have to say that I think one of my children chose to get a degree in math because she loved the challenge, but also loved the fact that there was a right answer to the problems. Even as a small child she was interested in time and how long things took and solving mysteries. Most importantly, she had a great math teacher in high school that she is still in touch with and still has as a mentor.
My oldest is what I would call an artist and math just came easy for her too. My musician son claims to not be good in math and not like it, but I have observed he does just fine in all college math classes and tests…so I believe he just does not like the formulas etc.
My youngest is a “math natural” too.
I think having lots of materials for them to experiment with helped…having good teachers really helped. In fact, besides the home environment, that is probably the most important thing. My youngest had a 3rd grade teacher who taught the kids cribbage and they had daily tournaments all year long. He learned his math facts so fast and so well that he can tell you every way to get to 15 or 31 that there is:)
6. What didn’t work well?
My musician son had a poor and absent teacher in 3rd grade and I believe it greatly influenced his thinking about math and his perception of his ability to be good in math. I should have provided more guidance during that time. In addition, with all of them, they soon enough surpassed my abilities and I never could use a graphing calculator…so I could not help them after they reached a certain level. Luckily, they could help each other and we have an economist friend who helped with the super sophisticated stuff…like probability haha.
7. What would you have done differently at home? Nothing actually
8. What would you have like to have seen done differently in their prekindergarten settings? They were lucky in that they had great PREK settings….I would not change a thing