Early maths is simply child's play;Letter

10th September 1999 at 01:00
DR TONY MUNTON did not give the whole picture (TES, August 27). Education experts do not say it is pointless teaching mathematics until children have reached the age at which they can understand number, but that it should be taught in appropriate ways.

Early-years carers and educators have certainly not sat back and waited for children to reach the appropriate stage, but have provided the kind of structured environment and activities to enable children to reach these stages.

Not only did Vygotsky emphasis the importance of language - he stressed that through play, supported by an interested adult, children could achieve things they cannot achieve in "real" life. Bruner took this theory further when he talked about "scaffolding" children's play - actively playing alongside children to support their learning. Language is a crucial part of this process. Skilled practitioners tune into children's learning needs by careful observation of play, and then choose the appropriate time and method to intervene and lead the play and learning on.

We accept that early learning goals and inspection regimes will help to raise standards, but only if they take account of the expertise of experienced early-years practitioners. Young children are not ready for formal learning. They learn by doing, and by talking about what they are doing.

Let's make sure that we learn from the best practice over the past century to give children the best.

Mary Townsend

Robertson Close

Clifton upon Dunsmore

Rugby, Warwickshire

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