Early childhood (0-4 yrs) practitioners' views on how children learn mathematics

SOURCE: Journal of Modern Education Review
OUTPUT TYPE: Journal Article
PUBLICATION YEAR: 2012
TITLE AUTHOR(S): N.Feza-Piyose
KEYWORDS: EARLY CHILDHOOD DEVELOPMENT (ECD), MATHEMATICAL ABILITY, MATHEMATICS
DEPARTMENT: Education and Skills Development (ESD)
Print: HSRC Library: shelf number 7492

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Abstract

This paper highlights the varied understandings of practitioners of young children on how young children learn mathematics. Therefore argues for interventions that highlight mathematics curriculum for young children and bring forth the latest debate on young children's ways of learning mathematics. Literature supports this argument by highlighting children's innate mathematics abilities as early as 6 months. These abilities begin to vary as they are nurtured or impeded by the environment the child is exposed to. Stimulation varies in an inequitable society like South African hence such big gaps in mathematics performance of students. Nineteen questionnaires of practitioners from pre-schools across socio economic backgrounds were analysed using a excel spread sheet for frequencies and thematic approach for qualitative data. The findings reveal that most practitioners believe that young children need to be exposed early on mathematics learning. This belief is supported by a sound knowledge of mathematics knowledge for young children and challenged by lack of this knowledge. Whereas few show sound knowledge of number compared to their counterparts from disadvantaged communities. However, knowledge of shapes challenges all groups regardless their background. Discovery learning and mediated learning are pedagogical approaches selected by practitioners, the latter being a preference of practitioners from disadvantaged ECD centres and the first option from affluent centres.