The thing I love about early childhood is how the curriculum is interwoven throughout play experiences. Intentional teaching coupled with thoughtful planning of the environmental set up, provides children many opportunities to develop their numeracy and literacy knowledge in a holistic manner, and can also include language, physical, and social skills.
It still surprises me when I hear comments about how children get into ‘real’ learning once they start school. As an early childhood teacher I know and support that children learn through play, it is through play that children explore and make discoveries about their world.
“Play is often talked about as if it were a relief from serious learning. But for children, play is serious learning. Play is really the work of childhood.” Fred Rogers
While children are engaged in play there are many opportunities and experiences that help to form connections that are made between new ideas and existing knowledge while gaining an understanding of mathematical concepts, including number sense, measurement, spatial awareness (geometry), sequencing, classifying and sorting, counting, and recognising patterns (algebra).
“Mathematics is a natural activity for children; they demonstrate a great capacity for learning mathematics long before they enter school.” Dr Jean Shaw
Early childhood are crucial years for children to gain an understanding and develop their thinking around the concepts of more or less, biggest or smallest, longest or shortest, near or far, heavy or light and wide or narrow.
“Exploring mathematics can help kindergarten children satisfy and deepen their natural curiosity about sizes, shapes, numbers and relationships they encounter in the world.” Dr Jean Shaw
At kindergarten we are thoughtful with our environmental set up that invites children through their natural curiosity, to be active participants and learners by engaging in meaningful experiences.
“Children’s understanding of mathematical relationships develop gradually over time, and by describing and working with patterns in the world around them, children are starting to use ideas that are foundational to algebraic thinking.” Dr Jean Shaw
These experiences can include water play (volume and measurement), imaginary play selling pizzas, how many would you like? (shapes and number sense), cooking (measurement), sorting and classifying items such as stones, shells or dinosaurs, whānau time singing number songs or a real favourite of counting how many children are in attendance at kindergarten.
“Play gives children a chance to practice what they are learning.” Fred Rogers
Instead of promoting a culture of worksheets, I believe as an early childhood teacher that I can offer children opportunities to learn through my thoughtful planning and intentional practice which provides play experiences that can incorporate numeracy and literacy skills. It is these foundational skills that children will carry with them as lifelong learners.
“Play is our brain’s favourite way of learning.” Diane Ackerman
Mā te wāSusie