We’re continuing our celebration of NAEYC’s Week of the Young Child with Work Together Wednesday.
Early childhood friends, I have a confession: I am a math person.
I know, I know. Math gets a bad rap. We all know it’s important, but it’s not usually love for proofs and calculus that land people in the preschool classroom. One minute, you’re asking children how many students are at school today; the next, you’re having anxious flashbacks to high school algebra.
However...what if I told you that math is actually really fun? And creative? And exploratory?
When teaching math to young children, it’s easy to get hung up on the standards, terminology, and mechanics. But math in the early childhood classroom is much more about laying the foundation for the critical thinking skills used later. You’re developing children’s frameworks for understanding. You’re encouraging their lateral thinking skills. When you’re in the art area, you’re helping children understand that the images they create are made up of shapes. When you ask children to help set the table for snacks, you’re helping them learn to solve problems with mathematical tools like one-to-one correspondence. When you’re in the block center, you’re encouraging children to predict what will happen to structures, finding patterns, and strengthening spatial reasoning.
That’s why I’m excited about Work Together Wednesday, which shows us that “when children build together they explore math and science concepts and develop their social and early literacy skills.” That’s right - math concepts are related to all of these domains of learning and understanding!
So, how do you pick the right questions to further children’s understanding? I like to take my inspiration directly from educators and from children themselves! There are tons of great examples of teachers and children building together in the CLASS Video Library and Learning Resources. Here are some thought-provoking questions they ask, and a few of my own:
As teachers or family members, we can do so much to help children develop their early math skills in ways that are genuinely fun! Share with us and join in the conversation about what you and your young child are building together with this year’s event hashtag: #WOYC21.
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When I was a teacher, I can remember taking care to intentionally plan differentiated, or individualized, instruction. And, when I was teaching pre-K I added the same level of intentionality to which materials were available in interest areas, and how I approached transitions throughout the day.
While any level of intentionally, specifically in relation to planning, is important -- I missed a critical opportunity in being more intentional in my interactions with the children in my class.
There is always an opportunity for interaction. Some opportunities are easily recognizable: times of play, free choice, centers, small group. We often see teachers engaged in activities alongside children during these times or hear questions being asked. Other opportunities might be a little less obvious. These are the times of your day that you might see as mundane moments that merely require your supervision or monitoring. The times where you’re going through the motions. “I’m doing this thing so I can move on to the next thing.”
In a previous blog, colleague and early childhood environment extraordinaire, Heather Sason, discussed how your classroom environment can help promote effective teacher-child interactions. In this blog, I propose we explore some of the often overlooked times in your day that are ripe for interactions with children and that do promote exploration, learning, and development!
It's not uncommon for teachers in early education to need to strike a balance between following children's leads and sticking to the classroom schedule. We know that intentional teachers are aware of their responsibility to assess student progress, understand skill mastery, and plan accordingly to provide opportunities for children to grow. However, many times, as teachers begin a specific teacher-directed activity, it is unsettling when students begin to veer from the step-by-step plans the teacher has worked hard to implement.
Teacher and coach, Colleen Schmit, will share how teachers can strike the balance between following the lesson plans and giving children freedom of choice and flexibility in the classroom.
We’re more than a month into the school year, and many educators and school leaders are feeling tired or burnt out already. That’s normal in any school year, as the newness of back-to-school wanes and the reality of a long year ahead kicks in. But, this year, that tiredness may feel like it has never felt before. Chalkbeat has reported that teacher vacancies are up in 18 of 20 large school districts, and it’s not surprising. Many are exhausted after a difficult year and a half (to put it mildly!). Many are also leaving the profession in droves to find work in competitive environments that provide a substantially larger salary.