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Reflections Magazine : Reflections Magazine Issue 54
PEAP: An early numeracy program Macquarie University, in partnership with Gowrie NSW, implemented a three year numeracy program in fifteen early childhood services across NSW and the ACT, including thirteen Aboriginal-community controlled early childhood education and care (ECEC) services with a high percentage of enrolments from Aboriginal families. The numeracy program, The Patterns and Early Algebra Preschool (PEAP) Professional Development Program, engaged 66 early childhood educators and 255 children aged between four and five years. The aim of the program is to improve mathematics learning outcomes for young Aboriginal children as they transition into the first year of formal schooling. The program incorporated culturally appropriate resources and pedagogies that involved the use of both hands-on materials and imagery. The program was designed to advance the content and pedagogical knowledge of early childhood educators who participated in intensive professional learning, which included: • three training days; • nine support visits; • two follow-up support visits the year after program implementation; • continuous online support. All professional learning sessions took place in the individual centres where learning was practical and culturally appropriate. Staff commented that they "loved the cultural content" , that the program was "culturally appropriate and supported a positive cultural identity for the children" and that it has provided them, as educators, with a new perspective to their teaching: "I have been teaching for over twenty years ... this [PEAP] has reopened my eyes to teaching. It has given me that love back of teaching" . The program, while developing broader mathematical knowledge, thinking and reasoning, focused specifically on developing children's patterning skills. Research shows that 'patterning is an essential skill in early mathematics learning particularly in the development of spatial awareness, sequencing and ordering, comparison and classification' (Papic, 2007: 8). Research also shows that early development of pattern and structure positively influences overall mathematical achievement. Throughout the program children engaged in various patterning tasks where they copied, continued and created various patterns made with blocks, tiles and natural materials such as shells and pebbles. They explored spatial patterns through dice games, made hopscotch patterns, explored border patterns and three-dimensional patterns. Children solved various problems and looked for similarities and differences between patterns. They were encouraged to explain their solution strategies when solving problems and to represent their patterns through drawings. Through ongoing professional development, educators were supported to identify opportunities to integrate patterning and engage children in mathematical experiences throughout the day within the context of the Early Years Learning Framework (DEEWR, 2009). Teachers were supported through professional learning to document children's mathematical explorations, learning, problem solving strategies and skill development so that they could plan appropriate experiences to build on children's current mathematical skills and interests. REFLECTIONS • GOWRIE AUSTRALIA • AUTUMN 2014 - ISSUE 54 5 While block play provided opportunities for the exploration of measurement and play dough provided an opportunity to explore number, an interest in dinosaurs provided opportunities for building tower patterns.
Reflections Magazine Issue 53 Summer 2013
Reflections Magazine Issue 55 Winter 2014