Home » Math » Teachers » Pre-K Mathematics » Mathematics in Pre-K


Mathematics in Pre-K


Young preschool children are active learners, naturally curious and ready to engage in mathematical learning!  Even though some adults unfortunately have developed negative feelings about math, thankfully, young children are not born with these fears!  They approach math with excitement and curiosity, if the practices are age-appropriate, engaging, and involve hands-on, minds-on learning approaches. Children need pre-k teachers with knowledge and skills in implementing research-based practices in early education classrooms.  
Mathematics education in pre-k includes both MATHEMATICAL CONTENT and MATHEMATICAL PRACTICES. Both of these will be addressed in the Pre-K Toolkit.

Mathematical Content includes the “what” the children learn in 4 areas of math--- counting and cardinality, algebraic thinking, geometry and spatial sense, and measurement and data. While Common Core State Standards are not written for pre-k, the Tennessee Early Learning Developmental Standards (TN-ELDS), coupled with identified research based early learning math content, will provide the foundation of knowledge and skills, to promote children’s readiness to meet the Common Core State Standards for Mathematics: Kindergarten.  The TN-ELDS are inclusive of the Head Start Child Outcomes updated in 2011.

Mathematical Practices
refer to practices that are incorporated into the mathematics learning experiences. These are important processes and proficiencies that teachers seek to develop in their students.  You will want to visit the separate link to this topic related to pre-k classrooms.

Listen to a podcast at The National Academies Press website, PODCAST: Mathematics Learning in Early Childhood: Paths Toward Excellence and Equity.   The podcast interviews Dr. Sue Bredekamp who emphasizes the importance of teachers’ knowing the teaching and learning paths for early math. Later learning is built upon early learning.

The National Association for the Education of Young Children (NAEYC) and the National Council of Teachers of Mathematics (NCTM) developed a joint position statement in 2002 and updated in 2010 titled “Promoting Good Beginnings:  Early Childhood Mathematics”.  Here are the recommendations from these two national organizations that are particularly relevant to pre-k teachers:

In high-quality mathematics education for 3- to 6-year-old children, teachers and other key professionals should

1.  enhance children’s natural interest in mathematics and their disposition to use it to make sense of their physical and social worlds

2.  build on children’s experience and knowledge, including their family, linguistic, cultural, and community backgrounds; their individual approaches to learning; and their informal knowledge

3.  base mathematics curriculum and teaching practices on knowledge of young children’s cognitive, linguistic, physical, and social-emotional development

4.  use curriculum and teaching practices that strengthen children’s problem-solving and reasoning processes as well as representing, communicating, and connecting mathematical ideas

5.  ensure that the curriculum is coherent and compatible with known relationships and se-quences of important mathematical ideas

6.  provide for children’s deep and sustained interaction with key mathematical ideas

7.  integrate mathematics with other activities and other activities with mathematics

8.  provide ample time, materials, and teacher support for children to engage in play, a context in which they explore and manipulate mathematical ideas with keen interest

9.  actively introduce mathematical concepts, methods, and language through a range of ap-propriate experiences and teaching strategies

10.  support children’s learning by thoughtfully and continually assessing all children’s math-ematical knowledge, skills, and strategies.

The following tabs will provide you with more information regarding specific mathematics topics and resources to support the Tennessee Early Learning Developmental Standards (TN-ELDS) and the development of these critical foundational skills for children.