Project Teaches Math, Science to Preschoolers
An Alma College faculty member has created a community-based research project to help teachers in Head Start preschool programs gain confidence in teaching mathematics and science.
Peggy Thelen’s project will utilize four Gratiot County Head Start classrooms, including the program on Alma’s campus. Two will be control classrooms while the other two will receive an experimental treatment that involves intentional curriculum planning and implementation.
“The curriculum in the experimental classrooms centers on developmentally appropriate mathematics and science concepts while integrating the learning of physical, social, literacy and arts concepts,” says Thelen, associate professor of education. “These classrooms also will have special speakers, field trips and additional supplies to give preschool teachers the guidance they need to confidently implement the curriculum.”
Head Start is a federally funded preschool program that serves young children who are at-risk. If the project’s outcome is successful, Thelen predicts she will see measurable changes in the children’s learning and readiness for kindergarten.
“This population might not get exposure to mathematics and science at home, so Head Start is an important opportunity for them to explore these concepts and vocabulary,” she says. “It can be a struggle for teachers to figure out where to meet these students in terms of learning and teaching.”
Small group pre-testing assessment of the children will take place at all four classroom sites this fall. In April and May 2013, a post-test will be completed. Teachers also will fill out questionnaires during these times.
Thelen plans to present her findings to the local Head Start funding agency, Eight Cap, Inc. She says she also hopes to share her project at the 40th Annual Head Start Conference and Head Start's National Research Conference in 2014.
“We really like mathematics and science when we’re young, but then the subjects become a little more difficult,” she says. “We’re not always taught to our level of understanding, so if we miss basic concepts, we can’t go to the next stage. That’s when children give up because most people aren’t interested in things they think they’re not any good at. We need to help children do well, so they can stay interested in mathematics and science.”
Posted: Mon, October 15th, 2012 at 9:31AM