Early childhood numeracy in a multiage setting
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This research is a case study examining numeracy teaching and learning practices in an early childhood multiage setting with Pre-Primary to Year 2 children. Data were collected via running records, researcher reflection notes, and video and audio recordings. Video and audio transcripts were analysed using a mathematical discourse and social interactions coding system designed by MacMillan (1998), while the running records and reflection notes contributed to descriptions of the children’s interactions with each other and with the teachers. Teachers used an ‘assisted performance’ approach to instruction that supported problem solving and inquiry processes in mathematics activities, and this, combined with a child-centred pedagogy and specific values about community learning, created a learning environment designed to stimulate and foster learning. The mathematics discourse analysis showed a use of explanatory language in mathematics discourse, and this language supported scaffolding among children for new mathematics concepts. These and other interactions related to peer sharing, tutoring and regulation also emerged as key aspects of students’ learning practices. However, the findings indicated that multiage grouping alone did not support learning. Rather, effective learning was dependent upon the teacher’s capacities to develop productive discussion among children, as well as implement developmentally appropriate curricula that addressed the needs of the different children.
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