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What does free play & discovery have to do with mathematics?

image2In the early years of a child’s life, it can be easy to dismiss mathematical learning, leaving the focus for future classroom years in primary and secondary school.

Ironically, it is during these first crucial years that children demonstrate a fascinating natural ability and interest in mathematical concepts. They have a tendency to incorporate these into a multitude of daily activities, with little encouragement from parents and teachers. From spontaneous play with shape and patterns, to counting, sorting and matching, mathematical learning is all around us. During the morning meeting, a child may need to quickly negotiate whether his or her body will fit into the space on the mat, allowing a teacher to discuss abstract ideas of approximation and comparing with the class.

Later in the day during investigative learning, a child may figure out how to balance a cardboard tube on top of a round stone platform, as part of fine-tuning their depiction of Auckland’s Sky Tower. Here, we see many concepts at play, including balance, support and the relationship between two distinct objects.

These types of everyday opportunities reinforce Bear Park’s belief that viewing the world through a mathematical lens is the most effective way of building strong foundations for later life learning. Which means our job, as both teachers and parents, is to help children identify and connect with the ideas they come across in day-to-day life.

image3We strive to nurture a new generation of holistic thinkers and problem solvers, children who are prepared to create, discover and explore as part of their life long learning.

3 ways Bear Park teachers encourage hands-on math exploration:

- Investigating and classifying natural objects, and using this to discuss related concepts such as size, shape, patterning, height and weight.

- Posing questions: “How can you make your structure taller?”  Or, “Can you continue this pattern? What do you think comes next?”

- When a child is encouraged to tell a story through an intricate compositional design.

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