About purposeful observation
Observation of children’s activities, interests, and interactions by our early years teachers is an integral part of our daily routine. It is a crucial responsibility of every practitioner to ensure that accurate, purposeful observations are recorded on all children, not just their key children. Observations are as important as every other part of the practitioners’ role. Time is made to discuss and evaluate observations as a team so as to inform children’s individual profiles accordingly and to set targets for learning, which in turn inform all future planning.
Why is it important?
Observation for us is the key to effective planning and assessment. Here are some of the reasons why we observe children, and why it’s important to do so consistently and with due care:
Can mathematics be taught at an early age? Is it beneficial to do so? What sort of mathematics can be taught in the 3-5 year old age group?
In this blog post we will answer these questions (and, as a sneak peak, here are the short answers: Yes, Yes, and Pretty Advanced Stuff, as it turns out!)
Mathematics can indeed be taught at an early age and it is beneficial to do so for at least two reasons: first, it helps put in place the fundamental mathematical concepts, which will carry a child’s understanding of the subject through primary school and beyond; and second, it introduces the topic without cumbersome tasks that tend to tire children and possibly dissuade them from taking up mathematics later on.
The prevailing wisdom among parents and early years professionals is that early math should begin with numbers and counting, starting with small numbers up to 5 and slowly introducing bigger numbers, before moving on to addition and eventually subtraction (in primary school). Multiplication and division are more advanced operations that are taught only in primary school. All through this linear progression from one task to the next, there is a strong focus on calculation. As a result, central concepts of mathematics, such as functions and variables, limits and symmetry, are typically introduced in high school. However, these very concepts are the ones that mathematicians identify as their true “tools of the trade”. The ability to memorize a multiplication table, by comparison, is only marginally useful.