Two experts recommend several activities to integrate this discipline into everyday life, so that the little ones learn and have fun.
The eternal controversy over Homeworks it has intensified this last year, even going so far as to declare the first homework strike in the public school. After the end of the course, there is no more homework to do, but many teachers recommend review exercises so that the children do not forget what they learned during the course, especially mathematics. In summer, parents are free to choose; The problem is that in the middle of summer vacations, under oppressive heat, with beaches and swimming pools at hand, the option of sitting in front of a math exercise book has everything to lose.
But there is an alternative, and it is proposed by Sivanes Phillipson, Professor of Family Education and Research, and Ann Gervasoni, Professor of Numerical Skills Training, both at Monash University in Melbourne, Australia. What Phillipson and Gervasoni suggest is that they are the own parents those who integrate the basic teaching of mathematics in their day-to-day with children; a day to day that is especially prolonged during the summer school holidays.
The mathematics of everyday life
“Our research clearly advises that children learn math in the daily activities“, Phillipson affirms to EL ESPAÑOL. The expert clarifies that it is not necessarily bad for children to dedicate a portion of their vacation to exercise books as part of learning time. But this activity is hardly enjoyable, especially in the summer: “it makes learning mathematics more of a regulated exercise than something intuitive and fun“, dice Phillipson.
The approach recommended by the two researchers “allows children to live their childhood and learn mathematics as part of their daily lives, games and interactions with their parents, siblings and friends,” Phillipson continues. According to the expert, sometimes parents are inhibited from undertaking these activities with children due to lack of confidence in their own ability to teach, but it is not about following a rigorous method, but about discovering together with the children how mathematics is part of of life in all the details of our daily experience. “Parents discover ways of learning mathematics that until then they had not suspected; both children and parents learn”, says the researcher.
Naturally, the activity level it must be adapted to that of the child, and no one knows that level better than the parents. But the researchers point out that both elementary school children and those who are still in preschool age can benefit from it. According to Phillipson and Gervasoni, even the babies Within a few weeks they begin to learn differences in the shapes and number of objects.
Giving concrete examples, the two experts point out that any walk can be used to talk with children about the number and shapes of objects, whether they are traffic signals, shells picked up on the beach or cars parked on the street. Look for similarities and differences, calculate the time it takes to get to the corner or compare the height of trees or the weight of stones, organize objects by their characteristics or play Veo Veo with magnitudes: “I see I see, something that is taller than mom...”. As the children help in the kitchen, we can compare the quantity or weight of the ingredients. And for playtime, Phillipson and Gervasoni recommend the activities using dice, cards, shapes, maps, or money. Even during nightly reading time, you can draw children’s attention to the mathematical facts that are part of the stories.
11 recommended activities
Through their research, Phillipson and Gervasoni have identified these 11 types of simple activities that can be started with children from a very young age, and which both experts detail in their recent book Engaging Families as Children’s First Mathematics Educators (Involving families as the first educators of children in mathematics) (Springer, 2017):
compare objects and describe which is longer, shorter, heavier, or smaller.
play with shapes in 2D and 3D objects, and describe them.
describe where they are positioned things, for example, north, outside, behind, in front.
Describe, copy and extend patterns found in everyday situations.
To use time words to describe times, events, and routines, including days, months, seasons, and celebrations.
Compare and talk about duration of everyday events and the sequence in which they occur.
Tell up to 10, up to 20 and beyond.
To use numbers to describe and compare collections of things.
Use the subsidization perceptual and conceptual (the ability to recognize quantities at a glance without counting them) to compare the number of objects in one collection with that of another.
Show different ways calculate a total (initially with small numbers).
Compare number names, symbols and quantities up to 10.
The two researchers point out that there are no rules, schedules or routines for these activities: it is not a question of forcing them, but of integrate them into everyday while we prepare breakfast, take a bath or walk in the park. And despite its simple appearance, the most important thing is that the effectiveness of these activities is supported by their results: studies on a program of this type called Let’s Count (Let’s tell), developed in Australia with the participation of Gervasoni and focused on children from three to five years old, discover that children mimprove in tasks such as making groups of seven objects (89% successful vs. 63% for non-followers), continuing patterns (56% vs. 34%) or counting collections of 20 items (58% vs. 37%).
“The idea of our approach is to encourage children and families to learn mathematical concepts that they can see everywhere and every day of their lives”, summarizes Phillipson; “We are in a generation that is quickly forgetting what we already had, and that is too dependent on artificially stimulated activities”, he concludes.