Early experiences with mathematics play a critical role in helping young children develop cognitive and reasoning skills. Not only do these activities build the brain’s architecture, but they also support problem-solving, puzzling, and persevering. However, differences in children’s mathematics knowledge are evident at kindergarten entry, with children who have greater access to economic resources often scoring higher than those without. This matters: mathematics performance at an early age is a strong predictor of future academic outcomes.
EDC’s Young Mathematicians project is expanding children’s opportunities to engage in high-quality mathematics learning experiences, particularly for children from families who have been historically underserved. Working in partnership with Head Start programs, teachers, and families, the project is examining how fun and playful mathematics resources can effectively bridge school and home learning environments, attending to issues of linguistic and cultural diversity. This work will promote mathematics learning in developmentally appropriate ways, reduce opportunity gaps, and expand the knowledge base about what works in early mathematics instruction.
This project builds on evidence from EDC’s ongoing Young Mathematicians (YM) work. This project will:
- Develop an enhanced professional development course and teacher resources
- Create new YM materials, including classroom games, home learning links, family math games aligned to classroom activities, mini-books, and short instructional videos
- Conduct an experimental field study with 40 Head Start classrooms to measure the impact of YM on preschoolers’ mathematics learning
- This project will impact over 50 teachers, 400 preschoolers, and 400 families from underserved communities.
- The team’s video, Young Mathematicians: Transforming Preschool Learning Environments, received the Public Choice Award at the National Science Foundation’s 2021 STEM For All Video Showcase.
- The team is sharing findings, insights, and tips from this work in a variety of venues, including the Bibliotheca webinar “It All Adds Up! How Librarians Can Support Math Literacy for Children and Families,” articles and blog posts, and presentations at the annual meeting of the National Council of Supervisors of Mathematics and other national conferences.