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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Can we talk about structure? When CLASS® entered my life, I was 20 years into my career in the field of early childhood education. What I remember most about that initial training, besides the nervousness about an impending reliability test, was a sense of relief. Structure, including state and program standards, curriculum, materials in the classroom, and approaches to childcare and pedagogy, had dominated my working hours. CLASS was a lot to learn, but for me, it was a breath of fresh air. Observing with CLASS meant I could set aside my obsession with all things structural, which encompassed my thoughts every time I walked into an early childhood classroom.
If you've ever been through a CLASS Observation training, you are probably familiar with the graphic below. Research tells us that improving teacher-child interactions is a process that includes many pieces.
The first step is to identify a teacher’s strengths and opportunities for growth, which can be done through a CLASS observation. Once you have this data, you can share it with teachers through a formal report, a face-to-face conference, or a feedback session. You’re off to a great start, but now what?
Originally published Jan 23, 2020 by Allie Kallmann
A few years into teaching early childhood, I applied to work at a school that does incredible work in the local community. I was thrilled to get an interview but realized very quickly that, even though the environment was supportive and the students were wonderful young people, I was much too intimidated to work there.
Originally published December 22, 2016
Regard for Student Perspectives as defined by CLASS® is“the degree to which the teacher’s interactions with students and classroom activities place an emphasis on students’ interests, motivations, and points of view and encourage student responsibility and autonomy.” This often looks like following children's lead so that you can anticipate their needs during an activity.
Understanding how to effectively employ CLASS's Regard for Student Perspectives while maintaining a constructive learning environment can be challenging. In the following paragraphs the fictional preschool professional, Mrs. Jones, will illustrate the indicators of Regard for Student Perspectives at circle time. I’ll then discuss her exemplary examples: