Indiana State University Newsroom



ISU to offer mathematics seminar for early childhood teachers

March 12, 2012

Faculty at Indiana State University are aiming to "start the engines" of mathematic thinking for young children by holding a seminar for their educators.

The seminar, Power-Start! Mathematics, is open to Vigo County early childhood teachers and caregivers.

"We want to spark local interest among all of the adults who care for young children, get them to think mathematically and put math into everyday things," said Amanda Davis, instructor of mathematics and one of the event coordinators.

Karen Liu, professor of elementary, early and special education, and Yong Park, assistant professor of elementary, early and special education, are also co-directors of a planning team including four students.

The trio of Davis, Liu and Park formed this seminar in response to a 2009 report by the National Research Council, which recommended a "coordinated national effort to improve mathematics teaching and learning for all children, ages three to six."

Early childhood mathematics education is becoming of increasing importance because research indicates that early math skills are strong predictors of success in both reading and math, Davis said.

Research also indicates that young children are thinking mathematically and enjoy mathematical activities and talking about numbers and shapes, Davis said.

This seminar, to be held on April 21, is grant-funded by ISU's Center for Community Engagement and made possible with the assistance of the Lilly Endowment and the Indiana State University Office of the Provost and Vice President for Academic Affairs. The seminar is free but availability is limited.

Attendees will find sessions discussing topics such as: incorporating mathematics into everyday activities, crucial learning paths in mathematics and mathematics transitions to kindergarten. Lunch will also be provided.

"We called it a seminar because it is a learning experience for everyone," Davis said. "Power-Start! Mathematics represents a blending of knowledge from the university and research with the knowledge of young children possessed by those who care for them and teach them on a daily basis. We expect this event to be education and motivational one for all."

Seminar organizers are intentionally targeting childcare providers who have limited access to math workshops.

ISU has collaborated with administrators at Community Alliance and Services for Young Children to find centers that are working to improve their Paths to Quality level rating, Davis said.

Paths to Quality, Indiana's child care quality rating system that is focused on quality improvement, was developed in 2008 and rates centers based on educational environment and curriculum use.

Some childcare providers may be hesitant to work with children on their math skills because they do not feel confident in their own education, Davis said

Despite this, research shows that it is more beneficial for the childcare providers to believe that mathematics is important to communicate it properly.

"We need to get them to notice how important what they are doing is and how to engage children in learning mathematics," Park said.

Parents are children's first teachers and a primary influence on children's learning throughout the educational process, Davis said.

It is the intent of the seminar's leadership team that the childcare providers and educators share what they learn with parents.

"We strongly believe that if Wabash Valley childcare centers and providers are willing to integrate math learning in their daily activities then the children will definitely benefit," Liu said. "We need to empower early childhood education teachers and improve their confidence in teaching early math."

All those interested in attending Power-Start! Mathematics or who are interested or involved in early education, please contact any of the following: Amanda N. Davis, 812-237-3147, Amanda.Davis@indstate.edu; Karen Liu, Karen.Liu@indstate.edu; 812-237-2856, or Yong Joon Park, 812-237-7892, YongJoon.Park@indstate.edu.

Writer: Alexa Larkin, media relations assistant, at 812-237-3773.