Playing with numbers;Reviews;Mathematics;Primary;Books

21st May 1999 at 01:00
SUPPORTING MATHEMATICAL DEVELOPMENT IN THE EARLY YEARS. By Linda Pound. Open University pound;40hbk. pound;11.99 pbk.

All the major areas of early childhood maths teaching and learning are covered in this powerful book. A vast and relevant bibliography underpins the text, which includes new research as well as reiterating the pioneering principles. But the book is also full of delightful stories and I was glad to be able to reread my all-time favourite from a collection by V G Paley about "Wally and the rugmeasurers". There are many examples, too, from Linda Pound's own extensive experience.

Clear comparisons are made between generally recognised perceptions of language and mathematics, for example: "Our instinct with spoken language is to praise young children's every effort . . . Adults are much more likely to insist on right answers and dismiss playing about with numbers."

Interesting points are raised about "the persistent concerns" of young children and the importance of making connections in mathematics. Practitioners and parents are encouraged to work together to recognise the ways in which they and their children behave mathematically.

The only problem is with the critique of the desirable outcomes for learning. According to the consultation document, these will be replaced in September by "early learning goals" and a new foundation stage to cover reception and the nursery, so the arguments will soon be outdated.

This book would be eminently suitable for beginning and trainee teachers but would also be helpful to all those concerned in early years settings. All the relevant information is here based on a wealth of knowledge and experience.

Patti Barber is a lecturer in primary education at the University of London Institute of Education

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