Like reading and other literacy skills development, the early years experiences with numeracy are critical to a child’s ultimate Mathematical development. Many of these experiences are learning games.
The Abecedarian approach to early years learning, and associated research strongly supports this premise. In fact they document a set of 200 individualized, game-like activities that are shared between an adult and one or two children. A sampler of 10 of these activities can be accessed here.
Of course many parents perform these type of play activities without thinking. As educators, I realize that the act of playing often opens up communication between a teacher and student. This often leads to improved effort and performance in future classes.
I am convinced that a large contributing factor to myself becoming a positive, competent Mathematician (and Maths teacher!), was the rich home environment I had. As a family we would often play card, board, dice games, etc. together. I had a strong will to win, and would carefully analyse each game and strategies that would give me a better chance to win. Later on in life I had to also learn how to win and lose graciously.
An excellent example of a similar approach is Sue Van Hattum’s Richmond Math Salon. I congratulate Sue on giving many children in Richmond, CA. the opportunity to “play” Mathematics, often in a free, unstructured way. I say let us take Sue’s lead, and allow more play in learning Mathematics. What do you think?
And what about ABC? Well UK early years education expert, Professor Philip Gammage, claims that 3 simple rules are the key to supporting healthy, well-adjusted children: