Saturday, 14 September 2013

Hands-on experiences enhance children's mathematical knowledge

Children should be given lots of opportunities to experience and explore. Children learn through concrete materials and learn best through their senses. They learn things based on previous experiences and these experiences will be organize and re-organize in their mind. Human interaction is needed to mediate children’s learning and help them to a higher level of development.


However, psychological environment must work hand in hand with physical environment. Teachers must set up a well-arranged environment to make connection between classroom settings and children’s behaviour, between physical arrangements and intellectual learning.


Teaching mathematical concepts to children is probably as much about the ways we assist them in building the connection between the objects and mathematical concepts as well as foster communication.  Often, the teaching of mathematical concepts is best accompanied by appropriate manipulatives. Manipulation is essential for children to acquire physical knowledge and logicomathematical knowledge.


After introducing the manipulatives, teachers need to describe the calculations or the problem-solving strategies in clear, concrete terms that young children can understand. Use appropriate language could help children to understand the concept and explain their thinking processes as they work on different types of mathematical problems.


Most importantly, mathematical concepts and skills that are introduced to the children need to be done in a hierarchical order – always moving from the simple to the complex and from the concrete to the abstract. Challenges set for the children should be set according to their readiness.


Teachers can do this by introducing new activities and experiences related to one specific concept for the children so that they enhance their previous knowledge and experiences. Teacher should also allow children to revisit certain activities from time to time as a form of ‘revision’ and ensure that concepts are understood and applications are made with confidence and competence.

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