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Reflections Magazine : Reflections Magazine Issue 54
6 The impact of the program The PEAP Professional Development Program had a positive impact on the early childhood educators. The professional learning addressed the personal fears and apprehensions educators had towards mathematics. Educators became more aware of the importance of patterning in early mathematics learning and on children's long-term mathematical development. They were also more aware of the mathematics children were engaging with through their play and they intentionally supported this by providing appropriate resources and materials. Educators frequently commented at the focus groups (conducted three times throughout the implementation) that they were a lot more aware of their role as an educator "to stimulate mathematical thinking" and "to model mathematical language" . Educators had a greater understanding of early mathematical concepts and how to support these through their everyday curriculum. They also commented that "the program enhanced our confidence in sharing children's learning with families as we felt more knowledgeable ourselves [about what the children were capable of mathematically]". The early childhood educators' documentation of children's mathematical learning over the twelve weeks of the program implementation, along with interview data from kindergarten teachers the year after implementation, highlighted the children's range of mathematical skills. These included number, counting, subitising (ie recognising the number of objects in a small group without counting), addition, subtraction, multiplication, comparison, measurement and, as would be expected, well developed skills in identifying, creating and representing patterns. In analysing the kindergarten teacher interviews four additional themes were identified in their responses: 1. children displayed confidence in the classroom; 2. children were happy and settled; 3. children actively engaged and participated in activities; 4. children exemplified leadership in the classroom. Most importantly, it was recognised that key to the success of the program was the strong relationship developed between the researchers, educators within the selected early childhood centres and the Indigenous Professional Support Unit (IPSU) staff within Gowrie, NSW. References: Barnett, W. S., Hustedt, J. T., Hawkinson, L., & Robin, K. B. (2007). The state of preschool: 2006 state preschool yearbook. New Brunswick, NJ: NIEER. Clements, D. H., & Sarama, J. (2011). Early childhood mathematics intervention. Science, 333, 968-970. Department of Education, Employment and Workforce Relations (DEEWR) (2009). Belonging, Being and Becoming: The Early Years Learning Framework for Australia. ACT: Commonwealth of Australia. Papic, M. (2007). Promoting repeating patterns with young children-More than just alternating colours. Australian Primary Mathematics Classroom, 12(3), 8-13. The PEAP Professional Development Program is supported by an Australian Research Council (ARC) Linkages Grant (Papic, Mulligan, Highfield, McKay-Tempest, Garrett, Mandarakas, & Granite, 2011-2013). The authors would like to acknowledge the early childhood educators and children from the fifteen participating settings for their engagement and commitment to the project. Educators documented episodes of children communicating with one another about patterns: why it was a pattern, the number of times it was repeated, and what came next in the pattern. "The pattern is red, blue, yellow, green, I've made it many times. I had to put the green here as it wouldn't fit, but it's the pattern. What's your pattern?"
Reflections Magazine Issue 53 Summer 2013
Reflections Magazine Issue 55 Winter 2014