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National Research Council Calls for Initiative on Early Math Instruction

July 10, 2009

The National Research Council has put out a report calling on the states to focus on mathematics instruction for the young. Published by National Academies Press, "Mathematics Learning in Early Childhood: Paths Toward Excellence and Equity" recommends more professional development for math teachers and tighter state licensure and accreditation processes.

Evidence has shown that in early infancy children are able to think about their world in mathematical ways, and by ten months of age babies can distinguish a set of two items from a set of three. Young children continue to expand their mathematical competence in informal and spontaneous ways such as counting toys or pointing out the shapes of squares, triangles, and circles.

The report recommends that instructors and teachers should build upon these instinctive attributes by emphasizing two major areas of mathematics. The first area is the concept of "number," which encompasses more counting, determining relative quantities, and computational operations such as addition and subtraction. The second area stresses geometry, measurements, and spatial thinking.

According to Christopher T. Cross, chair of the responsible committee, early competence in mathematical reasoning and problem solving leads to success in everyday life, especially when it comes to ones career.

Source: News From the National Academies, July 2

Start Date: 
Friday, July 10, 2009