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Such is the interest that the maths activities website, Nrich, is planning early years online activities later in the year, and the National Centre for Excellence in the Teaching of Mathematics NCETM is starting a specialist early years magazine. Its editor, Norwich teacher Cherri Moseley, says: "The foundation stage is a very important area, and aptly named as the foundation.

If you don't get [that] right, you don't get the rest right. The third Williams recommendation has attracted much attention: the idea of recognising young children's "mark-making" in the same way as emergent writing. Williams asked the Department for Children, Schools and Families to consider publishing materials to support continuing professional development in this area: one report, Mark Making Matters, has already appeared.

As practitioners including Elizabeth Carruthers, headteacher of Redcliffe Children's Centre in Bristol, have demonstrated, young children's squiggles and scribbles can often be their way of describing a complex thought process. Moseley says that teachers and researchers are becoming much more aware of how much mark making reveals about what the child is thinking, and where they are at, providing they talk about the marks they are making. It's not [physical] equipment that is important in early years; staff are your best piece of equipment.

One piece of kit that is, nevertheless, becoming familiar in early years and primary, is Numicon, which helps children to see what numbers mean.

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Each unit is a coloured square with a hole: so two is twice the size of one, and three is an angled shape. The holes are good for counting, and fit on a special board to help older children manipulate numbers. On the contrary, Blair proposes a neurobiological model of school readiness based on his analysis of recent neurological data, the implications of which are that preschool programs are best when they focus on social, emotional, and intellectual goals rather than narrow academics.

There are two more points to emphasize about the implications of these data concerning the effects of different preschool curricula. One is that only in the long term are the disadvantages of early formal instruction apparent. The disadvantages are not usually observable in the short term. To some unknowable extent, the apparent short-term benefits of formal instruction are related to the extent to which the curriculum prepares the children to respond to the items on the tests! Preschoolers who do not have formal academic instruction on items on the tests are less likely to perform well on them.

The second point is that early formal instruction, in the long term, tends to be more damaging to boys than to girls. Explanations for this finding are not entirely clear. One important interpretation of these data may be that in most cultures, girls generally learn to accept a passive role early and accept it more easily than do boys. On the whole, boys appear to prefer active and interactive experiences. Another possible explanation is the well-known fact that girls mature neurologically slightly earlier than boys.

Taken together, these distinctions suggest that early introduction of formal academic instruction may not be in the best interests of many of our children and, in fact, may be damaging in the long term. In terms of the aims of the STEM program, what goals and objectives are appropriate during the early years of education? In the matter of goals and objectives related to science, young children are likely to gain greatly in all four of these kinds of learning goals when they have opportunities to engage in in-depth investigations of phenomena around them worthy of their knowledge and understanding.

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Projects are based on the classical procedures of science in that they begin with a set of questions about the phenomena of interest, proceed to predictions of possible answers to the questions, followed by the gathering of data that can be expected to answer the questions as predicted. Similarly, in the case of project work with young children, once the topic of investigation has been agreed upon usually by the children together with their teacher , the children are encouraged to predict what the answers to their questions might be.

This step is followed by a discussion of what data will be needed to answer their questions and to test their predictions. Data gathering, called fieldwork, that can be expected to provide answers to their questions is then planned and undertaken by the children. Following a wide range of relevant fieldwork, which can include conducting surveys, interviews, asking questions of visiting experts, conducting experiments, drawing and measuring relevant phenomena, etc.


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A simple example of a project with young children is given below. Early in the kindergarten year in a small town near our university, a teacher in my class who had to conduct a project with her class was not able to take them on field trips for a variety of reasons. So she asked her class to ask their parents and grandparents, neighbors, and others if they would look in their basements and attics and see if they could find any old balls to give them to take to their class for a project investigating them.

Within about two weeks their collection included more than 20 different kinds of balls, including a basketball, beach ball, bowling ball, football, soccer ball, golf ball, ping pong ball, marbles, billiard ball, tennis ball, and many more. One child brought a world globe to add to the collection.

The teacher asked the class if they thought it was a ball. When they responded positively, she asked them why, and they pointed out that it was round. They then rejected that classification on the basis of the fact that the world globe did not bounce. In this way, they subdivided spheres according to whether or not they bounced. The teacher also engaged them in a discussion of what they thought might be inside the balls and introduced the concepts of solid, hollow, empty, full, and so forth.

A brief example of a few of their questions is offered below. The class then divided into subgroups of four or five per group to examine various characteristics of the balls in the collection. One group measured the circumference of each of the balls with string and displayed the strings by hanging them on a beam suspended from the ceiling. Another group made rubbings of the surface textures of each ball in the collection. Another group predicted their weight and tested their predictions. Another group predicted and tested the height of bounce.

Another group constructed a slope using a large block and a plank and measured the length the balls rolled depending on the steepness of the plank and whether they had it on the carpet, the wooden floor, on the gravel outside, and so on and so forth. The children created a question table in a discussion with their teacher as seen below. The discussions about standards seem to continue to grow more and more intensely.

Today, the answer to the question "What should be learned? However, a curriculum, that is, a plan for learning, cannot be delivered; it must be provided. These concerns with outcomes and end products are based on a corporate, industrial, or factory model of education. The Reception Year in Action, revised and updated edition. Anna Ephgrave.

The Project Approach to Teaching and Learning

Reflective Teaching in Early Education. Jennifer Colwell. Carolyn Meggitt. Frances Scott. Continuous Provision: The Skills. Iram Siraj. Your review has been submitted successfully. Not registered? Forgotten password Please enter your email address below and we'll send you a link to reset your password.

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