Discuss play in relation to the teaching and learning of problem solving, reasoning and numeracy in the Early Years.
Children observe and participate in maths within various settings, such as at home, nursery or school, which is carried out during day to day activities. This may vary from estimating the quantity of toothpaste to place on the toothbrush, pouring cereal to telling the time.
According to Tucker (2005), children learn about mathematics through play. He further explains how children can repeat, rehearse and refine their skills during play. It is not a formal aspect of teaching as children are free to explore their surrounding environment. Bruce (2005) later explains how play ...view middle of the document...
The Early Years Foundation Stage Profile (EYFS),(DFES: ) provides a framework for the learning and development of children from birth to five years. The EYFS adopts a play based approach and is linked with the Key Stage 1 curriculum. Therefore, lead professional from Key Stage 1 need to be familiar with the learning stages from the EYFS in order to further develop children’s learning. The framework divides itself into 6 key areas of development: Creative development, physical development, social and emotional development, communication, language and literacy development and finally, problem solving, reasoning and numeracy development (PSRN).
However, Williams (2008) argues how the revised mathematics framework should be reconsidered in order to sustain a more user friendly approach. He further argues how there is limited support for the practitioners within the document implying the Practice Guidance for the Early Years Foundation Stage (DfES 2007) booklet seems to benefit practitioners more as it provides a more detailed account around how to develop children numeracy development.
A key theory for mathematical development is by Liebeck (1984) who proposed the ‘ELPS Model’, suggesting there are four stages in which children learn: ‘Experience’, ‘Language’, ‘Pictorial representation’ and ‘Symbolic representation’. Liebeck (1984) explains how children develop abstract thought by exploration of objects such as toys (through play). Later, children will start to recognise words/pictures representing that experience and will associate written symbols with the object.
Involvement of adults through play is important for children development within maths. According to Munn and Schaffer (1993), (citied in Pound, 1999:6), young children’s ability to think mathematically heavily depends on their experiences and social interactions with one another, especially with the adult. Children should be able to explore and adults need to ensure children are free to use their imagination, for example, children should be encouraged to make their own games and rules during numeracy sessions as this gives the child a chance to explore and expand on their learning (child initiated activity) with adults support. Practitioners should ensure that children have access to appropriate maths games as this method of teaching through play can stimulate children. This also provides a more fun approach to learning, especially within the use of maths rather than supplying the children with worksheets. In relation to this, Fisher (1996), (citied in Pound 1992:72), suggests how worksheets do not give accurate views of what children can do and achieve and it is only observations and social interactions with the children can give the insight. Adults therefore need to think of effective ways to keep children stimulated especially when teaching maths. This is therefore implemented through the use of games, indoor and outdoor. Play is a good way to support children’s thinking and...