The Early Years Numeracy Program assists our schools to plan for and implement a comprehensive approach to early mathematics teaching and learning in the first five years of schooling. The four essential components of the program are:
- The Structured Classroom Program
- Additional Assistance
- Parent Participation
- Professional Development
The Structured Classroom Program
The structured classroom program includes a daily one-hour numeracy block. The use of powerful teaching approaches together with grouping strategies supports teachers in catering for the needs of all students. There is an emphasis on the use of continuous monitoring and assessment of students. The classroom program takes into account stages of mathematical growth and reflects teachers’ planning and selection of appropriate learning contexts and activities.
Mathematics in The Australian Curriculum
The Australian Curriculum: Mathematics provides students with essential mathematical skills and knowledge in Number and Algebra, Measurement and Geometry, and Statistics and Probability. It develops the numeracy capabilities that all students need in their personal, work and civic life, and provides the fundamentals on which mathematical specialties and professional applications of mathematics are built. During the Foundation Year, students are exposed to the three strands of Mathematics in a variety of ways.
Number and Algebra - Students engage with the ‘Big Ideas’ in Number to help develop their number sense.
Measurement and Geometry – Students explore measurement using informal lengths, such as hand spans. They also discover the properties of 2D and 3D shapes and explore locational language.
Statistics and Probability – Students explore the language of chance and collect data using yes or no questions.
Developing the ‘Big Ideas’ in Number
The Early Years program encourages students to develop a strong understanding of number and how to apply this knowledge to solve problems. While the ability to count is important, children need to know much more before they are ready to use numbers flexibly, with understanding (Siemon, 2007). The ‘big ideas’ approach to Number is broken into four different ideas; Trusting the Count, Place Value, Multiplicative Thinking and Partitioning.
At Eltham North Primary School, we have been working with staff from RMIT University to develop a greater understanding of how these ‘big ideas’ can help students to work more effectively with number. During the Foundation year, children develop their ability to ‘trust the count’ through a range of different hands-on activities. The use of powerful teaching approaches, together with grouping strategies, ensures that the needs of all learners are met.
With the provision of a carefully balanced and structured classroom program in mathematics, the number of students requiring additional assistance will be minimised. However, it is recognised that some students will require additional support. A process for providing additional assistance includes identification strategies, the establishment of home-school support groups, the development of Individual Learning Improvement Plans, the planning of appropriate teaching programs, and a process for reviewing student progress at regular intervals.
The Early Years Numeracy Program provides strategies for schools and teachers to involve parents in their children’s mathematics education by improving communication between home and school and supporting parents in appropriate ways they can help. These strategies include training for classroom helpers and interactive sessions that develop partnerships between schools and parents.
Professional Development for Teachers
The professional development modules draw together all the components of the Early Years Numeracy Program. The professional development strategy provides training for Early Years Numeracy trainers, Early Years Coordinators and classroom teachers. Involvement in professional learning furthers the skills and understandings of all teachers.