Mathematics and Kinder Orientation
On Wednesday of this week, new families and Kindergarten students for 2018 visited the school. While our new students for next year spent some time in the Kindergarten Learning Space, the mums, dads and a few of our grandparents met in the parish hall and had a chance to listen to some useful tips around Literacy and Numeracy.It may have been a while since you sat in the same chair with your own child about to begin at school, but the messages that we shared are still very relevant and it is a good thing to go back and relook at some of those essential understandings.
Mathematics Exists Within Context - it is all around us!
We sometimes have the image of Mathematics belonging in a classroom where there are pencils and grid paper and calculators and many calculations. But Mathematics is embedded into all arts of our everyday world around us. And if we become more aware of this, we can more easily tap into this world of real maths and develop our understanding of it. Consider timetables, cooking and measurement, construction and quantity, money and budgeting, distance and mapping, position and shapes. We are constantly surrounded by Mathematics.
Understanding Number Rather than Procedure
How many of us as adults were taught how to calculate complex operations by following a procedure to work out an algorithm? We can say that by knowing this, we can accurately calculate most problems. But in learning mathematics this way, our understanding of number can actually be quite shallow. Within current Mathematics learning, we strive to develop a deep understanding of number, quantity, patterns, strategy and efficiency. We develop mental strategies for visualising numbers and manipulating them to solve complex problems.Algorithms are also taught, but the understanding behind it is essential.
Anyone Can Be Mathematical
Quite often you hear people say that they are terrible at Maths and hated it at school. Everyone is capable of being Mathematical and succeeding. What is essential though is knowing your next step. As teachers we constantly monitor student progress and set student goals, demonstrating what a particular strategy may look like and giving many opportunities to practice this within a range of contexts. The Mathematical Assessment Interview done at the beginning of each year is one such assessment for identifying a student’s current understanding and what their next step is.
Thinking Hard and Being Confused
Thinking hard is a term that you may hear your child refer to. It means that a student is deciphering a difficult problem that is forcing them to really think. If we always roam within what we already know then we do not grow. Being challenged and being open to this is essential. A part of this is confusion. Students who frequently experience success can become anxious when they are faced with a problem that is confusing. What we do though is promote confusion as showing that we are facing a challenge - and that challenges are good.