April 20, 2016

Researchers share math program processes during Italy visit

Having concluded the first two years of a project designed to improve the teaching of math in preschool classrooms, UNL researchers recently shared their efforts with a prominent education center in Italy.

UNL faculty Ruth Heaton, Carolyn Pope Edwards and Victoria Molfese spearheaded Math Early On, a project aimed at bolstering the mathematical content knowledge, skills and self-efficacy of preschool teachers and their students.

To illustrate the project’s implementation at Educare schools in Omaha and Lincoln, UNL’s Center for Science, Mathematics and Computer Education joined Educare of Omaha in publishing a booklet titled “Learning the Language of Nature: Young Children as Mathematical Thinkers.”

The booklet contains a series of vignettes that capture the strategies and activities that preschool instructors have used to engage young children in mathematical thinking, integrate math with literacy, and reach out to families. In March, Edwards and Heaton presented the booklet to leaders of the Loris Malaguzzi International Centre in Reggio Emilia, Italy, while visiting as part of an international study tour.

“The next day, the primary conference lecturer … came to talk with us,” said Edwards, a Willa Cather Professor emerita of psychology and child, youth and family studies. “She relayed how much she liked the book, especially when she saw how it showed the history connecting Reggio Emilia and the United States, along with how the photos and stories provided an entry into the children’s thinking and investigation.”

The researchers said they hope to take Math Early On to the next level by disseminating it throughout the 21 U.S. early childhood schools that constitute the Educare Learning Network Initiative. Math Early On is supported by the Buffett Early Childhood Fund, which also finances the Educare system.

To read the booklet and learn more about Math Early On, click here.