So, we are contemplating putting together a Dodge Nature Preschool Newsletter edition devoted to math.
Math is a really big topic.
Math is everywhere, every day, all day long. As far as I can figure, math is a human construct, a sort of handy/cumbersome language for describing phenomenon in the world and making good predictions about that phenomenon in the future. Know what I mean? Stuff is already here: vines, atoms, seashells, dirt, air, DNA. Math is describing the stuff that is here, explaining how it got here maybe, and what you could do with it in the future. Take an ear for example. Lot's of animals on this earth have ears. Scientists can now grow human ears on mice. Kind of gross, but true. And, if you happen to be born without ears, or you are a burn victim, you might be glad that scientists are using math to grow ears. Math is behind finding the cure for cancer and figuring out how to curb greenhouse gas emissions. Math is even behind making ice cream. Math, math, math.
So here are my first raw and rangy musings about math in and out of the classroom here at Dodge.
Here at Dodge, children have many opportunities to practice “daily living” skills. When we enjoy snack in the classroom, we serve the food family style. Children are required to portion out their share from the whole. They often literally count individual foods or scoops of snacks, but the less literal emphasis is on dividing the whole (which is great for developing social and emotional skills like empathy and patience too). Materials in the classroom must be shared. Kids are grouped and re-grouped for hiking and other activities. Even when children are taking turns, they are learning mathematical concepts, seeing themselves in relation to the whole and understanding a basic sequence of events.
We usually call this sort of hypothetical thinking, “cause and effect.” If I put on my boots first, it’s going to be hard to put my snow pants on after. Kids may not always get dressed at the speed of light, but when dressing they are practicing skills that will help them understand the speed of light later.
“In five sleeps, I will go to grandma’s.”
“It’s up to here.”
The child sees her personal relationship to the rest of the world:
-I am me.
-Different, but the same too.
-Part of the whole.
pattern to nature? The shape of the universe, the rotation of the earth, the stream of the air and seas, the pattern of seeds in the flower's head, the twist of DNA... like Fibonacci, young children see, learn to look for, talk about and make patterns and relationships through daily, hands-on experiences with the world. This looking for patterns and correlations, talking about them and making them is developmentally appropriate math practice, isn't it?