Promising Math 2017 was the first in a biennial conference bringing together stakeholders from across the country to share knowledge about the understanding, teaching, and learning of mathematics for children between birth and eight years.
Our first Promising Math event explored the impact of dual language learning experiences on the construction of mathematical understanding in children from birth to age 8.
Compared to native-English speakers, language-minority children in the United States begin kindergarten with math scores about three-fourths of a standard deviation lower. Among the subset of these children who are not considered “English proficient,” the difference in math scores is a full standard deviation (Galindo, 2010). Given the strong predictive power of math achievement at kindergarten entry for overall school success (Duncan et al., Other), there is great interest in the early math field in developing a better understanding of how these gaps can be addressed.
Over 80 professionals from across the country gathered at Erikson Institute in October 2017 to explore the topic.
2017 Major Questions
Addressing Access to Math for Young English Language Learners
How do children construct a foundational understanding of mathematics, from birth to age 8?
- What difference does learning English as another language in preschool make in the development of very early math concepts?
- How often do children have math knowledge they can express in their home language but not in English?
- How well does the ability to express a solid understanding of early math concepts in a home language transfer to the learning of math symbols and arithmetic in kindergarten and first grade?
What kind of mathematical interactions do and should young children experience at school and at home?
- What are the most effective non-verbal math representations to help young English learners when math is taught in English?
- Do different approaches to teaching English Language Learners, such as dual immersion, transitional bi-lingual, and English immersion, have differential effects on math learning?
- How does parental engagement in “math talk” in a child’s home language relate to her ability to learn about math in English?
What are proven highly effective ways to work with families and teachers to provide access to mathematics for young children?
- How can we better prepare teachers of young children to teach math to children whose home language is not English?
- What can we do to help non-English-speaking parents help their children to learn mathematics?
- How should math professional development be tailored to meet the needs of teachers’ aides and assistants, who are sometimes the only adults in the classroom who speak the child’s home language?