Was this page helpful?
I found this page helpful because (select all that apply):
I did not find this page helpful because (select all that apply):

Emergent Mathematical Thinking: Improve

Infants and Toddlers

Reflecting on and improving your skills and knowledge to support children’s emerging mathematical thinking is important work. Here are some ideas you can try with your coach or supervisor to build your teaching practices in this area:

Planning Goals and Action Steps

  • Work with your coach or supervisor to identify the teaching practices you want to build and strengthen.
  • Here are some practices that help infants and toddlers develop a sense of number and quantity, spatial awareness, and an understanding of similar and different characteristics.1,2
    • Provide linguistically appropriate labels for attributes and concepts that children encounter to build their understanding of basic concepts such as color, shape, size, and numbers.
    • Use spatial and conceptual terms such as up/down, on/off, in/out, top/bottom, and over/under while modeling the action physically.
    • Repeat a math term or emphasize a single word to communicate that the term applies to more objects or actions than just the immediate one (e.g., “Angela has the blue truck. What color truck do you want?” or, “You put the block in the box. Now you’re taking the block out of the box. Block in, block out. Block in, block out.”)
    • For toddlers beginning at 18 months, plan experiences that introduce information across a wide variety of areas, including early math and science concepts such as understanding quantities (e.g., the concepts of “more,” “one,” and “two”), sorting and matching, and finding patterns.
  • In home-based programs, effective practices may also include broader relationship-building practices such as those described in Building Partnerships: Guide to Developing Relationships with Families.
  • Create an action plan with timelines to help you use the practices consistently and effectively.

Focused Observation

  • Revisit the teaching practice that you outlined in your planning goals and action steps with your coach/supervisor. Together, plan for and schedule an observation where they can focus on how you implement the practices you’ve identified.
    • For example, if you chose to focus on the practice, Use spatial and conceptual terms such as up/down, on/off, in/out, top/bottom, and over/under while modeling the action physically, invite your coach/supervisor to observe an outdoor play time. Ask her to note how often you embed spatial and conceptual terms into your self- and parallel-talk about the play yard experiences.
  • In home-based programs, observations may focus on how the home visitor engages with parents to identify, adapt, and use the identified teaching and relationship-building practices. They may also focus on how you model the practices.

Reflection and Feedback

  • What went well? What did you do? How did the child/children react or respond?
    • In home-based settings, how did the parents react or respond? How did their reaction support the relationship with their child? Their child’s developing sense of number and quantity, spatial awareness, and an understanding of similar and different characteristics?
  • Cite specific evidence from the observation.
  • What seemed challenging? What did you do? How did the child/children react or respond?
    • In home-based settings, how did the parents react or respond? Their child?
  • Cite specific evidence from the observation.
  • Did your coach/supervisor offer feedback from the observation that was surprising? What supports do you need from her to refine and strengthen the practice? What else would help you strengthen the practice?
  • What would you do differently if you were to use this practice again?
  • What do you hope the child/children/parents will gain by using this practice? How will you know?

1Allyson Dean, Sarah, LeMoine, and Maria Mayoral, ZERO TO THREE Critical Competencies for Infant-Toddler Educators (Washington, DC: ZERO TO THREE, 2016), 43, C-1, 47, C-2.

2Sally Atkins-Burnett, et.al., Measuring the Quality of Caregiver-Child Interactions with Infants and Toddlers: The Q-CCIIT Observer Certification Training User’s Guide (Washington, DC: Mathematica Policy Research, 2016), 31–33, B.2.

Topic:School Readiness

Resource Type: Article

Last Updated: June 5, 2018