There are several ways that practitioners can meet children’s educational needs within mathematics. It is their role to relate their practice to the EYFS, this is because they can identify what age and stage the child is at and how they can further extend their development. A way that the practitioners in my setting use to meet the children’s educational needs is through planning and observation. This enables the practitioners to find out which areas the child has achieved and which areas they have yet to achieve and therefore needs more improvement. Through previous activities that have already taken place within the setting, practitioners can evaluate upon this activity, to see which areas within mathematics of the activity needs improvement. In order to achieve this, practitioners must create a stable and an enabling environment that has opportunities for the children to develop their mathematical skills. In my setting, they do this by providing several stations that relate to mathematics such as having a sand and water area, counting station and etc. This can help their mathematical development as it helps them to explore the concepts of weight, number, capacity and measurement.
“Provide a wide range of number resources and encourage children to be creative in identifying and devising problems and solutions in all areas of learning” (EYFS, Mathematics: Numbers, Enabling Environments, pg. 34, 8/2/19).
When the practitioners are playing and helping the children within my setting when it comes to activities, they always use mathematical language when talking to the children. It is important that practitioners do this through any activity such as story time, and role play.
“Use descriptive words like ‘big’ and ‘little’ in everyday play situations and through books and stories” (EYFS, Mathematics: Shape, space and measure, Enabling Environments, pg.35, 8/2/19)
This can be through by asking questions such as ‘Which brick is the biggest?’ and ‘How many circles are there’. Through this they make sure to give the children time to answer the question, as this will build upon their self-esteem and confidence. If a child may feel too pressured to do something or answer a question, they may lose interest in the activity and therefore this will be ineffective to their development.
If a child is interested in what they are doing, they are most likely to have a more effective learning. It is the role of the practitioner to find out what the children’s interest are and then use this to their advantage by changing and adapting the environment to their interest and needs. To achieve this, practitioners in my setting have positive relationships with the children’s parents. To find out what the child’s interest are, they ask the parents what their child usually plays with at home and why they find this interesting. This can help when it comes to planning activities to help achieve the child’s next steps. If a child is interested in dinosaurs, the practitioners should plan an activity that includes either counting dinosaurs, weighing dinosaurs or etc. This is an effective way in how the practitioners can meet the children’s needs within mathematics as this will make mathematics seem more appealing to the children this therefore means they will be more intrigued and are more likely to develop more in mathematics.
It is vitally important that practitioners support children’s mathematical development effectively. Practitioners can support children through scaffolding. This is a strategy that is used by identifying the child’s zone of proximal development, this means identifying what the child can do without help, what they can`t do and what they can do with help. Scaffolding is a way of stretching and challenging children`s learning and development so that the child doesn’t become bored. It is important to stretch a child`s development as this ensures that they won`t stay at the same age and stage and that they will gradually improve. It is important to not push the children to much as this may have a negative impact on their development. By identifying what stage the child is at currently and what they can achieve in the future without making assumptions is important to supporting a child`s mathematical development. Scaffolding was a theory that was founded by Vygotsky, he believed that if practitioners used mathematical language and concepts through play and use the child’s past experiences to help those plan and scaffold activities, this will effectively support a child’s mathematical development. Bruner, another theorist, shared the same views as Vygotsky and believed that practitioner`s should create interesting and challenging environments as this will therefore act as scaffolding children`s development. Practitioners in my setting provide challenging and an interesting environment by including various objects that the children can count and weigh: such as colourful animals (this will be more stimulating for children), coins and blocks.
Within a challenging and interesting environment, practitioners must give children opportunities to learn via group learning, socialisation. It is important that practitioners include sustained shared thinking within their planning of activities as this will effectively support children`s mathematical development. Sustained shared thinking is where practitioners work together, with a goal to extend a child’s development, learning and understanding in mathematics. Practitioners in my setting can do this by saying their thoughts out loud to the children, as this will give them a bit of guidance with their problem solving skills and thought processes. For example they could say ‘well if I place this piece of puzzle here, will it fit in with the other piece?’ by saying this out loud it give the children a chance to think about what’s been said and if they should or shouldn’t do it and why. Group learning and socialisation is also an important key aspect to supporting children’s development. This is because, by giving children the opportunities to learn and work with others, it can help them learn from each other. In my setting, practitioners tend to place 2 children who are at different stages to work together as this way the less knowledgeable other can learn for the more knowledgeable other. The opportunities that practitioners provide in my setting to do this is by setting out the table for tea time and by singing songs that include mathematical concepts such as ‘5 little ducks’ and `1,2,3,4,5 once I caught a fish alive’. This is important to supporting their development as it helps children understand mathematical concepts more through doing interesting and fun things.
D3 & D4:
In order to provide opportunities to support children’s mathematical development, practitioners must provide an enabling environment for the children to learn and develop within. To create an enabling environment, practitioners must plan and adapt it according to the children’s age and stage. To encourage babies to learn and play with mathematical objects, they must be shown as appealing in order to stimulate the babies’ senses. In my setting, practitioners do this by providing objects that have a range of textures and colours as this will be more intriguing for them to play with.
“Provide a range of objects of various textures and weights in treasure baskets to excite and encourage babies’ interests” (EYFS, Mathematics: Shape, space and measure, Enabling Environments, pg.35, 8/2/19).
When they are playing with objects, it is the role of the practitioner to talk about what shapes there are in the environment as this will help babies to help develop their understanding and awareness of mathematics in a sensory environment that will provide opportunities for them to explore freely within. As this environment is effectively planned to the babies’ age and stage, it is therefore an enabling environment that will support their mathematical development.
Practitioners should also provide an enabling outdoor environment as well as indoor. Practitioners again should provide several opportunities to support children’s mathematical development. Practitioners must be engaged and enthusiastic as this shows the children that the activity is fun and they will therefore be more intrigued. In my setting, the practitioners provide sand and water trays for the children to explore with which also includes objects such as buckets, spades, weighs and measuring beakers. This gives the children opportunities to develop their mathematical skills as it helps them to understand how they can weigh, count and fill objects. This therefore helps them understand capacity, measurement and number counting. The children are doing this through play and therefore they won`t think that this has been set up so that they can learn about maths and so this will help them to effectively develop their maths as they enjoy playing in sand and water. By making this available outdoors and indoors, it can provide children to explore the different obdurate environments around them and how they can use different areas to play different things. Outdoor learning should have equal value to indoor learning. A perfect example of this within my setting is the mud kitchen, the mud kitchen provides the children to get a bit messier and play a bit more freely with their peers. By practitioners providing and engaging in these activities indoors and outdoors, they can help to support children’s mathematical development.
Practitioners within my setting always relate their practice to the EYFS and Statutory guidance. This is where they identify where mathematics is within the activity that has been planned for the child. By keeping up to date with their knowledge of mathematics within the current frameworks, they can effectively provide opportunities to support children’s mathematical development. The EYFS mainly focuses on helping the development of numbers, counting, understanding and space, space and measurement. When planning mathematical activities and opportunities for children, practitioners in my setting know what are the expectations (the unique child) are of the age and stage of the child as well as taking account of their needs. If a child does have any needs such as not having English as their first language, practitioners in my setting adapt the environment and activity to their needs. They can do this by using different shapes and patterns that express different cultures.
“Collect pictures that illustrate the use of shapes and patterns from a variety of cultures, e.g. Arabic designs” (EYFS, Mathematics: Shape, space and measure, Enabling Environments, pg.35, 8/2/19)
This is why it is important that practitioners understand the requirements of the relevant frameworks within mathematics as it enables them to have an inclusive practice that provide several opportunities that support children’s mathematical development.
The statutory guidance states that it is important for practitioners to provide opportunities for children to support their mathematical development.
“Mathematics involves guiding children with opportunities to develop and improve their skills in counting, understanding and using numbers, calculating simple addition and subtraction problems; and to describe shapes, spaces, and measure” (Statutory Framework, pg. 8, 8/2/19).
Practitioners in my setting provide appropriate opportunities as they value the child’s individual needs and interest and plan accordingly to this. If a child does have a special educational need or disability, practitioners in my setting have a strong partnership with the parents, so that they can identify how to adapt the activity and environment to better suit the child’s needs. This is done by asking the parents how they help the child at home so that they don’t contradict any ways the parents use. This stops the child from becoming confused and help them to develop at the correct rate.
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