Work Based Project Report
During my early years initial teacher training programme. I have carried out a work-based project focusing on Early Mathematics. This report will outline the aim and objectives of my work-based project, theories and reflection of my practice and leadership styles and what I could have done better.
This development is necessary because in the staff meeting, the concerned have arisen with focusing on early mathematics and how we can improve that. Moreover, practitioner have struggled talking to parents on Early Mathematics.
After the meeting, I have noticed that practitioner in my setting focused on Early Mathematics for few days only. I thought this is a good opportunity for me to do some research in depth about Early Mathematics and contribute to teaching and promote learning in my setting.
Math is one of the most basic skill we expect our children to master. Reading, writing and Arithmetic these are three subjects often named as being of paramount importance. And yet, while much focus is put on early literacy skills including reading and writing, maths is often lost in the shuffle. But teaching our children maths skills through playful activities from early age is more important than we might think.
Children’s Early experience of mathematics form the foundation for their future mathematics learning and success. Mathematical knowledge and skills provides building blocks for success in many areas of life and work. (New Zealand Government, 2016).
International and New Zealand research on children’s learning in early years confirms the importance of early experiences in mathematics for future educational success.
I have observed that practitioners have been planning the activities for children but their interaction is very less and they are not using the mathematical language. Most of the children does not recognize numbers. Practitioners are missing many opportunities as they do not interact with children in sand and water area. Next issue is Practitioners were not talking to parents about children’s home mathematical experiences, expectation and aspirations.
As a graduate trainee, I have been learning how to teach children and improve my practice and moreover thinking myself as a leader in Early Years setting and improve the practice of others and leading a change made me anxious and excited at the same time.
To lead a change and improve Early mathematics in my setting. It was very important for me to do an effective planning. Based on my planning to do research in depth on Mathematics in Early Years and reflect on my research that activities that I have been planning for the children are fun learning and according to EYFS curriculum. My Planning also involved the research in depth on Leadership in the Early Years and how I could involve the staff members and parents to lead the change. During my research I felt excited. Roberts – Holmes XXXXXXXXXXsuggests that you should ‘think passionately with your heart and strategically with your head’ when designing your research.
Changes that will make a difference to the learning opportunities and outcome for children. Change in my setting depends on my clear vision which I could communicate to staff through the dissemination of my knowledge. (Hallet 2013)
Critical evaluation of current theoretical perspectives and codes of early years professional practice informing the work – based project.
In Early mathematics children needs both open ended activities as well structural activities for learning mathematics.
Research has repeatedly found that young children do not use mathematics in independent play (Hutt et al. 1989; Young 1994; Griffiths 1995; Rogers 1997; Gifford XXXXXXXXXXResearch shows it is not clear that children learn much mathematics from activities such as cooking. They are more interested in stirring and eating. So, it is very important for practitioners to work alongside children or plan fun learning and playful activities for small groups.
Our nursery extended for water and sand area etc and new garden. I noticed that it’s very important to make mathematical rich environment near the water area. So, I made posters related to capacity showing full, half and empty.
In order to avoid putting undue pressure and negative attitude towards the subject. Firstly, it was very important for me to assess the children in group of four and how they feel and learn in general. I was overwhelmed by the outcome that children really enjoyed recognizing the number through fun learning. This outcome really motivated me and made me confident However, its challenging for me to make them understand the other activities for example size, capacity, weight and with the bigger key group specially EAL children.
While leading activities I encouraged children to predict for e.g. By leading (Sorting the size) activity by showing them different sizes jars and I asked them “what do you think which jar is large, medium and small”. I also focused on what they already know and praised them, in order to provide them a feedback that they are doing good.
Feedback, ‘so the child knows how he is doing’, is a key feature of effective learning activities, according to the oxford pre-School project (Bruner, 1980).
I lead sorting the size activity in the main classroom with Key group and Key person Videoed me. I can see high level of excitement in children’s responses while putting the pom pom in the jars. “I love pink pom pom and this is small and will go in small jar!” Maths through play seemed enjoyable, What Piaget (1951:162) called “functional Pleasure”.
Whitehead (1995: 53) suggested that ‘subversion’ is an intuitive learning strategy, where children gain control cognitively and socially: control is basically linked to children’s ownership of activities. While leading recognizing and matching the numbers and parking the cars in the bays. I gave them ownership to choose their favourite sport cars and colours they like and play with the cars before they park them on the matching bay.
Staff member and myself lead capacity activity in the water area in order to avoid following the same routine and children sitting on the carpet every time (Emphasised by HM chief inspectors of schools XXXXXXXXXXwe also provided the resources to children large scale, making activities more accessible. (for e.g. Three children filling up the container and making it half at same time). I believe that capacity activity also helped children in gross motor skills.
While leading all my activities I implied Vygotsky’s concept of scaffolding which is closely related to zone of proximal development and was developed by other theorists applying Vygotsky’s ZPD an educational context. Wood, Bruner and Ross XXXXXXXXXXused the term “Scaffolding” as a metaphor to explain the nature of the aid provided by an adult for a child who could not successfully complete a task alone.
Scaffolding is how adults support children’s development and learning by offering just the right help, at right time, in right way. There are several strategies that I have implemented to assist children’s learning. For example, Model and guide when they needed. Or Zone of proximal development.
When I lead the weight activity I realised children didn’t understand the concept of it so repeat the activity as I implied Bruner’s theory as Bruner’s believes that children learn when they are exposed to particular subject many times in different ways.
Systematic analysis of the approach taken to problem solving and how project is designed to make changes to the practice.
Leading a change was fearful and challenging for me. I read few books on leadership for e.g. Successful Leadership in the Early Years by June O’ Sullivan and Effective and Caring Leadership in The Early Years by Iram Siraj and Elaine Hallet. I thought change that I am
“Good Leadership requires us to recognise these challenges and, where possible, have an option that will help us address the situation so we get the outcome we want as painlessly and positively as possible.” (June O’ Sullivan, 2009)
I discussed with my mentor about the issues I have identified and my ideas to make young children mathematician by leading fun learning activities on numbers, shapes However my mentor also wanted me to lead activities on weight, capacity and measurements according to EYFS.
After the meeting with my mentor I was really anxious on how to lead the activities on weight, capacity and measurement with young children.
Fink XXXXXXXXXXsuggests that leaders should be ‘leaders of learning first and foremost, which involves understanding learning, critical thinking, contextual understanding, political acumen, emotional understanding, making connections and futures thinking’.
I read few books on mathematics like Understanding mathematics for young children (A guide for teachers of children 3-7), Messy Maths by Juliet Roberston etc.
I have arranged initial staff meeting and made sure the information I am providing is clear, accurate and useful. I discussed about the change and explained them: importance of Mathematics in Early Years (we are responsible for building the foundation stage), How our everyday language change into the mathematical language?
I also discussed with them: our current approach of leading mathematics is minimal and we don’t want our children to suffer in KS1 saying “what is number”?
I showed and explained them all the activities that I have planned is according to EYFS. On numbers, capacity, weight and size.
I explained them how we can improve the mathematics at Hampden way:
· By Enabling the Environment and planning fun learning activities according to EYFS.
· Once in a week, Each Key person carrying out the fun learning activities on mathematics with their key groups during the story time.
· We need to involve mathematics in our everyday planning as well.
· Involving parents by making leaflets for them.
Another important thing as a leader, I discussed with staff is we should create an environment in which children also cope with the change.
We are working in difficult times, ever changing and shifting…beyond our ability to predict, for the future has become difficult to govern. I believe that the challenge facing children today is to think how to interconnect – this is a watchword for present and future – a word that we need to understand deeply and in all its forms. (Malaguzzi, 2005, p. 1).
It is very important to involve parents in children’s learning and explain parents what they can do at home. In the Early Years Foundation Stage (EYFS) curriculum framework, parents are recognized as the child’s first educator (DSCF, 2008b).
I showed the staff members leaflet that we can distribute to parents so that they can also support children at home through fun learning activities. Some of the staff members came up with their own ideas in making one more leaflet for parents as working parents may not get time to make the resources for children. I appreciate their ideas.
View and ideas of staff members.
I used the structured questionnaire in order to take ideas and views of other staff members. We took a little break and I read the views of other staff members.
Looking at the staff views:
Some of the staff members agreed with my ideas and liked the fun learning activities and my resources that I showed and discussed with them. They came up with their own ideas for example comparison between longest, medium and shortest by using the sticks that children have collected from the forest school. I liked their idea. However, couple of them think that we should stick to only child- initiated play and by leading these activities we will be putting an undue pressure on children.
Leading change can be an art rather than science. (June O’ Sullivan, XXXXXXXXXXSo, I explained the staff members by telling them that I agree with their views that the child-initiated play is important however along with that if we lead fun learning activities with our key groups once in a week in this way we are teaching the concepts of Early mathematics according to EYFS to each and every child.
Staff members who were unhappy about the change, I also explained them I will lead an activity with a key group and other staff can video me and we can discuss further on it. In meanwhile we have to start involving mathematical language and vocabulary in day to day activities.
I discussed with the room practitioner to use the main classroom so that I could lead the activities with key group and key person of that key group could video me so that we can reflect on the videos.
An effective leader ensures all colleagues are part of the change process, leading collaboratively through professional dialogue underpinned by early years knowledge and values (Colloby, 2009).
On another meeting I showed my video to staff members (Sorting the size activity) and we reflect on it that children were really enjoying the activities and I also explained them we can linked our activities to the stories for example sorting the size of pom pom in different jars linked to the Goldilocks and three bears by showing children different size porridge bowls.
My Change was accepted and welcomed by all staff members and I left my resources with them so that they can lead the change in my absence.
My next step is to when I will finish my baby placement I will ask member of staff to regular monitor the development of early mathematics and effectiveness in teaching of maths by observation and by doing regular meetings with staff and parents and also by looking at the children’s achievement.
Critical Reflection on leading and supporting other practitioners to develop an aspect of early years practice.
While leading a change I have Communicated effectively with the staff members, children and parents. I have valued their thoughts, their ideas and strengths. By involving everyone in my project I think I have made good and healthy relationship with everyone. I talked to them what I think about the change and I listen to them and support them and they support me too and I think it’s a two-way process.
My leadership style is people orientated. I like to promote a collaborative approach and this enables practice to develop and the team to take ownership of this. In order to promote the collaborative approach, its is very important that there is a mutual understanding between the staff members. While leading my project I make sure that I am approachable all the time.
It was really challenging for me when some of the staff members felt unhappy about the change because they think that we are putting an undue pressure on children at this age. Involving everybody was really important for me to lead this change.
I lead an activity asked member of staff to video me and we all reflected on it in next meeting and we saw that children were really enjoying the activities and I also explained them by doing this we are also helping summer born children who are stating their Reception class when they are 4years and few months old. I also explained them importance of school readiness. I felt great when I involved the whole team in the change.
I feel that staff members also need to know that I am not perfect in doing everything and this will also increase their confidence and self-esteem.
I like the way staff members gave their own ideas about involving activities on measurement during the staff meeting and I took on board their ideas.
I feel great that we distribute the leaflet to parents and involve them in the change. I think through the mutual understanding between the parents and staff members, can contribute to children’s learning and development that we will see the benefits of promoting the collaborative relationship and working in partnership.