School Years Introduction

From Foundations For Numeracy

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This resource kit was created for early learning practitioners and teachers to help support the development of numeracy skills of children in their care. The information presented in the kit is based on a comprehensive review of recent well-designed research studies on the learning and teaching of mathematics. The findings of these studies are communicated in an accessible format, making this resource an effective reference tool that can be used in daily practice.

The kit is divided into two volumes: one for early learning and child care practitioners and the other for elementary school teachers. Each volume includes a research summary and several additional components. The current volume, which is intended for teachers who work with children from Kindergarten to Grade 6, includes the following components:

  • Creating a Math-Rich Environment (tips for elementary school teachers to make their classrooms more inviting and conducive to mathematics learning)
  • The Development of Mathematics in the Elementary Years (a research summary for teachers)
  • Resources for Elementary School Teachers (a list of both print and online resources on supporting numeracy)
  • Activities (learning activities for children from Kindergarten to Grade 6)
  • Glossary of Terms (definitions of technical terms related to numeracy)
  • Numeracy Poster (a poster in the form of a number line)

The kit is intended to supplement and enhance elementary school teachers’ prior knowledge of mathematics teaching, as well as to introduce new information on the teaching of mathematical concepts. It allows teachers to stay up-to-date on the latest advances in mathematics teaching and learning, and helps teachers to identify the most effective approaches that can be used in classroom environments. It is a useful learning resource for teachers in training and a practical professional development resource for those who are already teaching.

Numeracy during the elementary school years

The elementary school years are a time of growth and new, exciting experiences for children. Children undergo many developmental changes between the ages of six and twelve, particularly in terms of their cognitive development. Such changes, by extension, influence their numeracy development. During the elementary school years, children acquire the ability to process and retain new information, and to solve increasingly complex mathematical problems. Consequently, elementary school children are able to progress from the rudiments of symbolic number system knowledge to basic algebra.

Children’s mathematical development is closely tied to the opportunities that they experience in elementary school. Accordingly, creating a math-rich classroom environment and employing a variety of teaching approaches and learning activities can be extraordinarily beneficial to students. Recent thinking in math education has shifted from an emphasis on the teaching and practicing of algorithms (e.g., memorizing arithmetic facts or completing pages of math problems) to focusing on reasoning and problem solving and subsequent application to real world problems.

It is imperative for teachers to remain cognizant of the fact that a child’s acquisition of mathematical knowledge will vary according to individual experience, disposition, and even brain maturation. Yet as a group, and over a reasonable period of time, acquired knowledge and proficiency with mathematics will improve for students, given a dynamic instructor who employs developmentally appropriate strategies. Dedicated teachers who provide support for their students’ mathematics development in the elementary school years will pave the way for each child to realize his or her true mathematical potential.

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