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.
How do you make a peanut butter and jelly sandwich? I posed that question to a random selection of contacts via text message. What did I discover? Everyone in my sample group spreads on the PB first, then the J. There are a variety of ways though to apply the jelly, but in my random group, the jelly always comes second.
Peanut butter and jelly sandwiches make me think about Behavior Guidance, a dimension in the CLASS® toddler observation tool. Especially the first two indicators of behavior guidance: proactive and supporting positive behavior. Proactive is the peanut butter! It goes first. That layer of peanut butter is the base for the jelly, which promotes positive behavior.
“What I think I’m most proud of as a professional in the field is our ability to show up, our ability to still do it, to still roll with the changes… We have to adjust. That is what educators did the entire year. We show up. We have a strong why. We love what we do.” This is a quote from Colleen Schmit from our recent webinar, Celebrating Great Teaching. She’s talking about how hard the last couple of school years have been for teachers. Teachers faced a similar difficulty 20 years ago when the United States faced a national tragedy.
Hey there, Teachstone community! My name is Stephanie Lewandowski, and I am the Senior Product Manager for myTeachstone. Before joining Teachstone, I built digital products for education companies, financial institutions, and government agencies. I’m passionate about delivering impactful products, particularly the tools that make the everyday work of teaching and learning a little bit easier. As a parent, and as a product manager, I know how invaluable early childhood education is, and I’m inspired by the teachers in both my personal and professional life.
I was a kindergarten teacher for eight years at a public school. I loved my job, but somewhere along the road I started to become crotchety. I was often annoyed with my colleagues and frustrated with the demands of the district, and I was sure I knew better than any training or professional development session I would ever be forced to attend.