At Huili Nursery Hangzhou, we are committed to creating diverse, inspiring situations to support children’s holistic development. Mathematics is one of the important learning areas.
In the early years, children develop a concrete understanding of abstract concepts. Once children are confident with concrete thinking, adults can help them to move towards abstract or ‘pure’ number. Teachers will guide children’s mathematic development step by step, enabling them to have hands on experiences of maths through authentic situations.
Research tells us that a strategic combination of concrete and abstract thinking at the right time will help children’s development of mathematical thinking. Therefore, by following children’s individual experiences and perceptions, organically combining concrete activities with “abstract representations” at the right time will help children’s early mathematical development. The combination of ‘real-life’ contextualisation and mathematical language is very important in mathematics.
Regular modelling of high-quality mathematical language helps to support children’s development in maths-related activities; the close relationship between mathematics and life also provides many opportunities for us to integrate mathematics language into children’s daily rhythm and routine.
Here are some examples of ways you can scaffold this with your children in every-day life and encourage both mathematical language and deep thinking.
When laying the table for dinner, say to your child, “There will be a guest joining us today. Would you please help to work out how many sets of tableware we need to prepare?”
When you prepare a shopping list before you go shopping with your children, “How many apples do you think we need to buy? Five? Six? More? Less?”
When you tidy up toys at home with your children, “Do you think this cuboid basket is big enough to hold these toys?”
When the child is playing with a jigsaw puzzle, “Shall we try to rotate the triangle? Which direction?”
Children’s mathematical development is not a separate, isolated field of development. Let us use our eyes to “discover and think” with children to inspire them to discover mathematics, enjoy mathematics and make use of mathematics in the process of problem solving through socialised and contextual interaction！
EY1 children are fascinated by the Mobilo area. They use their fine motor skills and creativity to connect the little parts together and enhance their learning by creating 3D work. Their focus and attention allow us to observe their high levels of wellbeing and involvement. By witnessing these moments, we are beginning to see the deep thinking of our children.
As part of the zoo project research, we were fortunate to have an online guest, Ms. Sharon, a veterinarian friend of Ms. Zoe, from the UK as our “expert”.
Ms. Sharon introduced the environment, facilities and working process of the animal hospital where she works in detail to the EY2Unit children via a video call. Children were encouraged to ask questions after the observation.
At first, many children did not understand what a “question” was or how to ask questions to unfamiliar adults. Under the guidance of the teachers, they recalled and shared their experience of going to the hospital, the relevant steps and corresponding medical measures in their experience of taking animals to see a doctor. In this atmosphere of being heard and encouraged to explore, children began to naturally discover and express the problems they had observed. Ms. Sharon, the veterinarian kindly answered children’s questions, one by one, in a follow-up video call.
In the process of project-based learning, EY3 children are keen to use a wide range of media to explore and respond. After receiving the postcards sent from the UK, the children were deeply attracted by British culture, food, and architecture. They conducted corresponding special studies by consulting documents, online surveys, and interviewing experts. Then the children also learned to start using postcards and emails to share their exploration achievements.
The children are learning new sounds every week in Phonics lessons and are incredibly motivated to write and blend sounds. They listen carefully, practice saying the sounds and words, and then try and write them. They are delighted with their new learning experiences. The children have adapted to this routine in a very positive manner and are highly engaged and enthusiastic to learn.
This learning can be seen throughout the day in the children’s everyday learning and interactions with each other. The children have been using their writing skills by making shopping lists, birthday cards and signs to set up their shops. The have set up their own café and a barber’s shop. They are having so much fun.