Children, even at a very young age, have an incredible understanding of spatial relationships. Jan de Lange brings up the idea that elementary school classrooms might consider starting their math curriculum with spatial reasoning. Ideas such as numbers and counting could be added later to quantify this concept that children naturally understand so well.
Imagine you have a house with forty rooms. I can bet you that your three year old will know exactly where the sweets or his favorite toys are after you show him once–in three dimensions!
Jan de Lange is the founder and director of Jonge Ouder Academie (Young Parents Academy), an institute for parents of children ages 3-7 that facilitates learning at home, complementary to learning at school. He is also an Emeritus Professor at the University of Utrecht in the Netherlands and a past chairman and director of the Freudenthal Institute.
The Early Math Collaborative, supported by the Robert R. McCormick Foundation, held international symposia in 2009 and 2010. The two events brought experts from around the world to share approaches to early mathematics education with teachers, administrators, policy-makers, and other education professionals. The goal was to generate globally-informed ideas and recommendations for improving math instruction in the early childhood classroom. In breakout discussions and plenary sessions, participants brainstormed ideas, identified issues, and recommended actions.