The power of mathematics for describing and analysing the world around us is such that it has become a highly effective tool for solving problems. It is also recognized that students can appreciate the intrinsic fascination of mathematics and explore the world through its unique perceptions. In the same way that students describe themselves as “authors” or “artists”, a school’s programme should also provide students with the opportunity to see themselves as “mathematicians”, where they enjoy and are enthusiastic when exploring and learning about mathematics.
In the IB Primary Years Programme (IB PYP) for the Early Years (ECC), the foundational skills for mathematics are constructed through hands on learnings experiences that will develop initial understandings about the role of mathematics in the world around us (IBO, 2009). Students use loose parts to count, make patterns and graph. They explore mathematical concepts through play-based learning. A variety of materials and games are used to provoke mathematical thinking in students as they explore and solve real-life problems together. In the early years, students transfer meaning to symbols as they are developmentally prepared.
In the early years, we encourage our young learners to construct meaning about mathematics from learning experiences. We ask them to communicate their ideas with their classmates as a community of learners, questioning each other and considering how to make sense of what they are learning. Once they have a solid understanding of a mathematical concept, they are able to transfer that to the symbolic (IBO, 2009). We use a variety of approaches and strategies to encourage students to form deeper conceptual understandings about number. Mistakes are seen as opportunities for growth and uncovering misunderstandings. Using this process can move learning from developing a simple understanding based on memorization to a relational understanding where the children can explain and relate their understandings about math to other scenarios for problem-solving (Van de Walle, Lovin, Karp, & Bay-Williams, 2014).
The five strands our students will be exploring to construct foundational mathematical understandings are number, data handling, measurement, shape and space, and pattern and function. These are designed to interact with each other, working together to support the overall development of each student. Learning objectives describe the grade level expectations for each strand.
International Baccalaureate Organization (2009). Primary years Programme mathematics scope and sequence. Cardiff, Wales: Peterson House
Van de Walle, J., Lovin, L. H., Karp, K. S., and Bay-Williams, J. M. (2014). Teaching student-centered mathematics: Developmentally appropriate instruction for grades pre-K-2, 2nd ed. Boston, Massachusetts: Pearson