Mathematics Learning in Early Childhood: Paths Toward Excellence and Equity

Christopher T. Cross, Taniesha A. Woods, and Heidi Schweingruber, eds.
Center for Education, National Research Council of the National Academy of Sciences
2009

Even as too little attention is paid to preparing pre-schoolers for the reading/literacy demands of the primary grades, the math side of school readiness has been even more shamefully neglected. Riding to the rescue is a panel of the National Academy of Sciences, chaired by Christopher Cross. It has produced a long (what do you expect from the N.A.S.?), deadly earnest (ditto) and very researchy (likewise) but ultimately valuable report. Turns out that little kids are far more capable of math learning than is commonly recognized (and they readily engage in it when given the opportunity). Unsurprisingly, it also turns out that competent adult help does them a world of good in this area--and that disadvantaged youngsters need more such assistance. Turns out, further, that today's early-childhood arrangements generally slight this part of learning--from state standards right down to classroom (and day-care-center) practice. And, of course, we learn that much can and should be done to rectify the situation. You may weary of the panel's 21 conclusions and 9 recommendations--the latter, of course, follow straightforwardly from the former and mostly end up looking obvious--but the Academy has well served the cause of school readiness in America by giving this topic the attention that it warrants. You can find it (for a price) here.

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