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PART I: MAJOR THEMES AND RECOMMENDATIONS Summary of Part I: Assumptions and Recommendations
Pages 440

This section summarizes the two assumptions and the 16 recommendations that are described in detail in chapter 1, which comprises Part I.

Assumption 1: Knowledge of what young children can do and learn, as well as specific learning goals, are necessary for teachers to realize any vision of high-quality early childhood education, (p. 26)

Assumption 2: Prekindergarten children have the interest and ability to engage in significant mathematical thinking and learning, (p. 28)

Recommendation 1: Equity is a major concern in mathematics education at all levels. There is an early developmental basis for later achievement differences in mathematics: Children from different sociocultural backgrounds may have different foundational experiences. Programs need to recognize sociocultural and individual differences in what children know and in what they bring to the educational situation. Knowledge of what children bring should inform planning for programs and instruction, (p. 29)

Recommendation 2: The most important standards for early childhood are standards for programs, for teaching, and for assessment. These should be built on flexible, developmental guidelines for young children’s mathematical learning. Guidelines should be based on available research and expert practice, focus on and elaborate the big ideas of mathematics, and represent a range of expectations for child outcomes that are developmentally appropriate, (p. 31)

Recommendation 3: Mathematics for young children should be an integrated whole. Connections-between topics, between mathematics and other subjects, and between mathematics and everyday life-should permeate children’s mathematical experiences, (p. 73)

Recommendation 4: As important as mathematical content are general mathematical processes such as problem solving, reasoning and proof, communication, connections, and representation; specific mathematical processes such as organizing information, patterning, and composing; and habits of mind such as curiosity, imagination, inventiveness, persistence, willingness to experiment, and sensitivity to patterns. All should be involved in a high-quality early childhood mathematics program, (p. 73)

Recommendation 5: Curriculum development and teaching should be

informed by research on teaching and learning and by the wisdom of expert practice. Educators and policymakers should support and insist on approaches to teaching, learning, curriculum, and assessment that are developed and tested extensively with children, (p. 74)

Recommendation 6: Mathematical experiences for very young children should build largely upon their play and the natural relationships between learning and life in their daily activities, interests, and questions, (p. 75)

Recommendation 7: Teachers’ most important role with respect to mathematics should be finding frequent opportunities to help children reflect on and extend the mathematics that arises in their everyday activities, conversations, and play, as well as structuring environments that support such activities. Teachers should be proactive as well in introducing mathematical concepts, methods, and vocabulary, (p. 75)

Recommendation 8: Teachers should purposefully use a variety of teaching strategies to promote children’s learning. Children benefit from a thoughtful combination of carefully planned sequences of activities and of integrated approaches that occur throughout the day. Successful early childhood teachers build on children’s informal knowledge and everyday activities, considering children’s cultural background, language, and mathematical ideas and strategies, (p. 76)

Recommendation 9: Children should benefit from the thoughtful, appropriate, ongoing use of various types of technology. Especially useful are computer tools that enrich and extend mathematical experiences, (p. 76)

Recommendation 10: Teachers should endeavor to understand each child’s own mathematical ideas and strategies. Teachers should use those understandings to plan and adapt instruction and curriculum, (p. 77)

Recommendation 11: Teachers should help children develop strong relationships between concepts and skills. Skill development is promoted by a strong conceptual foundation, (p. 77)

Recommendation 12: Interview and performance tasks and ongoing, observational forms of assessment are useful and informative ways of assessing young children’s mathematical learning and should be integrated as appropriate into the early childhood mathematics curriculum. The primary goal of assessing young children should be to understand children’s thinking and to inform ongoing teaching efforts, (p. 79)

Recommendation 13: Professional development should be based on research and expert practice. It requires multiple strategies and an understanding of the variety of professional development models, with special emphasis on the importance of teacher leaders and collegial support groups. It needs to be sustained and coherent, (p. 82)

Recommendation 14: Deep knowledge of the mathematics to be taught, together with knowledge of how children think and develop those skills and understandings, is critical for improving teaching and should be learned in preservice and professional development programs, (p. 83)

Recommendation 15: One effective way to promote professional development is through the use of high-quality curriculum materials and programs. These should be included in professional development programs. (p. 83)

Recommendation 16: A coordinated effort should be created to translate the information in this book into a variety of forms for different audiences, (p. 85)

Recommendation 17: State agencies should collaborate across all states to form more coherent and related state mandates and guidelines for mathematics for young learners. Governments should provide adequate funding and structures so as to provide high-quality early childhood education for all children, including high-quality professional development for the adults who care for them. (p. 85)

Douglas H.Clements University at Buffalo, State University of New York

The Conference on Standards for Prekindergarten and Kindergarten Mathematics Education was held to facilitate early communication between, and coordination of efforts by, the educational leaders and agencies who are developing mathematics standards and curricula for young children. An 18-person working group, representative of conference participants, met in a follow-up meeting to summarize the main points raised, and research presented, at the conference, as well as the recommendations for action.1 This group synthesized the various resources compiled by the conference participants (including transcriptions from each of the working groups and plenary sessions of the conference). The first draft was circulated widely among representatives of the more than 100 participants of the initial Conference and several additional experts; their advice was considered in producing the final revision of this chapter. Thus, these Major Themes and Recommendations represent, to the best of our ability, the contributions of existing research theory and the collaborative thinking of representatives from the diverse fields concerned with early mathematics education.