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Opening Doors for Children & Families

2 + 2 = 6...Right?

Here's an interesting factoid about me; I am terrible at math. The interesting thing about this is at one point in my life math was my strongest subject. Then in grade 9 I took this downward math spiral and never quite recovered. I blame it on that fact that I was good at math, that I become really bad at math. Let me explain...in 8th grade my math teacher recognized my "math talent" and so in 9th grade "they" (whoever they is) decided there would be an advanced math group. This may be hard for people who know me now to believe but I WAS PUT IN THAT GROUP!

The grade 9 "Advanced Math Group" worked like this: at math period a group of us would leave and go into a tiny little resource room. There we would play chess. Well actually let me rephrase this, the boys (I was the only girl), would play chess. They never did let me play because that's what 15-year-old boys do - they leave girls out. So essentially not only did I miss a whole year of math - I never even learned how to play chess. Then in grade 10 I was completely lost. So I sat beside my smartest friend (who is now a nurse) and basically stared at the chalkboard in confusion and copied off of her. It helped that we looked alike because I could claim to be her and confuse the teacher when I handed in the exact same answers.

Something went very right for me in my early childhood days. I had one of the most forward thinking Kindergarten teachers EVER (and she was also my Grade one teacher.) She let us experience things in so many ways and I credit her still for my skills in spelling, writing, and the skills in math I once had. She understood the right way to teach early learning - by letting us explore, take risks and experience things in many different ways and through different vehicles.

At ABC Head Start we take on the same principles as my fabulous kindergarten and grade one teacher. What our staff understand is that young children are operating within Piaget’s preoperational stage, which means they cannot think logically. Therefore math, which I'm sure we all agree requires a lot of logical thinking, is something that can not be taught the same way to preschoolers as it can to higher level grades.

In Francis Wardle's article "Math in Early Childhood" he writes: "...we must provide a myriad of opportunities for young children to have direct, concrete experiences in the real world. What is the value of discussing the speed of light if you don’t understand light? Seeing snow accumulate day after day is a real way to understanding increase in quantity. Carrying a large boulder teaches about mass; swinging on a rope about force, angles, and speed. Field trips, extensive classroom projects, exploration in nature, extensive use of the playground, observing the weather, etc., must all be central to our math curricula."

Now if math was taught like this why wouldn't it be your favourite subject? Let your children explore - they are always learning!

ABC Head Start Society is a registered charity which has been committed to promoting and supporting strong children, families, and communities in Edmonton for over 30 years. We know that by giving children the best possible early learning and development opportunities in life, we ensure the future well-being and prosperity of our families and communities.



What's your favourite children's book?