Written by Allison Wilson
Importance of Language-Rich Early Math Experiences
For our youngest learners, it’s not the number of costly toys or flashcards that is of utmost importance but rather something completely free, talking. Language is central to all strands of a child’s development, including early math. In fact, research suggests that the quality of interactions and the number of conversational turns between caregivers and young children are most important for brain development. Conversational turns are simple back and forth exchanges between a child and an adult, like in a game of tennis or ping pong. The most powerful types of conversations are playful, engaging, and anchored in responsive interactions based on the interests and familiar routines of children. Everyday spaces and routines such as grocery stores, mealtimes, laundry duties and our neighborhood are filled with language-rich learning opportunities for intentional math conversation.
New Project ELLO Collaborative: hELLO Math
Project ELLO, Everyday Language and Learning Opportunities, encourages caregivers to talk with their children in ways that are thematically tailored to familiar routines and community settings. The most recent initiative of Project ELLO, hELLO Math, focuses on promoting language-rich math conversations throughout four familiar routines and community spaces: mealtimes, laundry, grocery shopping, and around the neighborhood. hELLO Math has partnered with Spokane STEM Network, Spokane County Library District, KSPS, NEWESD 101, and Community Minded Enterprises to not only raise awareness of the critical role of early learning, but to empower families and communities with the resources they need to make every day math learning accessible, intentional, and culturally responsive.
hELLO Math Resources: Conversation Sets, Poster Series, Math Talk Tote
Through resources made possible by Washington STEM, the hELLO Math team has created four new transportable Math Conversation Card Sets, a math poster series, and a math talk tote bag. The posters and conversation card sets include child friendly aesthetics with thematically tailored open-ended prompts to provide a starting point for intentional, math-rich conversation around the home and in community spaces. Resources are designed to promote language-rich math interactions between caregivers and their very young children – those who are just beginning to repeat first words through those enrolled in kindergarten. The posters and hELLO Math conversation card sets are available as a free download from the Everyday Resources section of the Project ELLO website. Each are all available in English, Russian, Spanish, and Marshallese. The posters can be displayed in the home, early learning setting, or community space and the conversation cards can be assembled on a key ring to take on the go with the math talk tote! More information about the hELLO Math conversation card sets can be found by watching either of the two commercials created in partnership with KSPS Public Television that are available on YouTube: hELLO Mealtime and hELLO Neighborhood.