Math in a Child’s World: Policy and Practical Challenges for Preschool Mathematics - Report Released by EdSource and California STEM Learning Network

  • December 11, 2012

San Francisco (PRWEB) -- California’s preschools face a number of challenges in implementing a high quality math curriculum, according to an EdSource report released today, titled Math in a Child’s World: Policy and Practical Challenges for Preschool Mathematics.

The issue has gained greater urgency as a result of several compelling studies showing that basic math concepts acquired at a preschool level, including counting, sorting, and recognizing simple patterns and shapes, are the most powerful predictors of later learning and success in school, even more than reading.

“Math at a preschool level has not received the attention it deserves,” said Chris Roe, CEO of theCalifornia STEM Learning Network. “We hope this report will be useful in illustrating the key challenges and describing needed changes in order to ensure that all children arrive in kindergarten with the skills they need to succeed.”

Among the challenges pointed to in the report were the following:

  •     The paucity of math content in preschool teacher preparation;

  •     The barriers created by “math anxiety” among many preschool teaching staff;
  •     The uneven quality or lack of professional development and in-service learning opportunities for teachers;
  •     Linking what children learn in preschool with what they are expected to learn in grades K-3.

“The key to a successful math curriculum at a preschool level is not a formal math program, but integrating math concepts into daily interactions and activities of children themselves,” said Louis Freedberg, EdSource’s executive director and author of the report. “Many preschool staff would benefit from greater preparation and training to acquire the skills they need to do introduce math concepts into a child’s world in a seamless way.”

Complicating the task of overcoming these obstacles are the differences in approaches and quality among the vast array of preschool settings in California serving the over 1 million 3 to 4-year-olds in California -- from home-based care and privately run centers to state subsidized preschools and those offered on public school sites.

“A major task facing the state is how to reach the large numbers of children who are not in any preschool programs, in low quality ones, or in family-based care without an educational component,” said Freedberg.

The EdSource report was based on interviews of participants at two California STEM Learning Network (CSLNet) Early Math convenings held at California State University, East Bay and the University of California, Irvine, along with follow-up interviews with educators involved with teacher training, experts focusing on preschool education in California, and program administrators.

CSLNet, with support from the Heising-Simons Foundation, helped underwrite the report, which is the first to take a deeper look at the challenges of offering quality math content at a preschool level.

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