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Joy of Childhood Conference

Mrs. Daniel, one of Richland Academy’s Senior Kindergarten teachers, recently attended a conference for early childhood professionals from across York region. The keynote speaker talked about the importance of early childhood educators, who he considered “To be emotional rechargers” for the next generation.  He suggested a key role as teachers was to model empathy and relationship building, vital human skills.  These he considered were just as important as the development of early math and literacy skills which, in fact, impact hugely how successful children are at future learning.Mrs. Daniel then attended a math workshop stressing the importance of developing fundamental math skills in the early years, to build a strong foundation for children’s later success.  Reference was made to Howard Gardner, and his research into different learning styles. It was noted that it is important to consider the different learning styles of children, and ensure all these are met, as mathematical concepts are explored in the early learning classrooms.  “Recognize the learning styles of a child and teach him through that.”Interestingly at age three, the brain is most able to learn mathematical concepts, and thus the early years are critical learning periods for a child.  Understanding mathematical concepts using concrete materials is essential at this stage of development.  Repetition of basic concepts and extending these ideas from the concrete to the abstract is the key to success.  Worksheets were not recommended for the younger learners.The workshop enabled its participants to use common materials such as play dough, Lego blocks, cards, books, beads and measuring spoons to explore such ideas as counting, patterning, sorting, and one to one correspondence. Learning through play was considered developmentally appropriate, with the teacher entering the play and providing the children with the language of math, the materials as well as the environment to purposefully support the development of fundamental mathematical skills in the early years. Making the learning visible through documentation, and referencing the learning to the ELECT document was also suggested.

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