Professional: Book Reviews – For Your Shelf

Four books for early childhood practitioners on teaching math, home learning and encouraging diversity are reviewed by Karen Hart

Fun Math for 3-7 Year Olds by Helen J. Williams | Corvin| Paperback: £15.24 | E-book: £15.29

Built around the idea that children are naturally mathematical in their play, Playful Mathematics for Children aims to inspire us to rethink mathematics, to explore how children learn best and how adults can effectively support their mathematical learning.

Williams believes that the way math is taught in the early years is imperative to instilling a positive relationship with the subject, and suggests researching math into the child’s chosen game, alongside organizing a specific activity. math-based.

I particularly like the quotes that accompany each chapter. For example, ‘Supervision of a child, after his first day at school: did you like it? What have you done today? Child: Well, I spent a lot of time sorting Mrs. B’s animals, but when I was done, she put them all back in the box.

This type of activity, sorting for sorting, is presented as having no real context, which children see as a worthless task, and I vividly remember that feeling myself as a young child.

This book offers many practical suggestions for lesson ideas that can be used to cover early learning objectives, as well as prompts to get you thinking about math as a subject contained in all other subjects in the curriculum. foreground.

I can’t do math! by Professor Alf Coles and Professor Nathalie Sinclair | Bloomsbury | Paperback: £14.99 | E-book: £13.49

Admittedly, today’s teachers usually present the subject with a little more brilliance than they did when I was in school, but even so, math seems to remain the subject that everyone is s imagine understanding or not understanding.

In I don’t know how to do math! Why kids say it and how to make a difference, Professors Coles and Sinclair aim to bust this myth by exploring and offering practical strategies for five common sticking points surrounding math education. By looking not only at these individual domains, but also by changing the whole landscape surrounding the subject – the language used, mathematics as a tool for solving real-life problems, and presenting mathematics as a subject for group participation, etc. – it is possible, according to the authors, to offer a new subject and improve the fun and learning outcomes for all.

The overriding theme is that by seeing the subject of mathematics through new eyes, we can present it in a way that is both engaging and relevant.

Filled with activities, techniques, real-world strategies, and real-life case studies, the ideas here are easy to digest and transfer to the classroom. The book made me question not only the way we teach the subject, but also the way we view mathematics throughout our lives.

Home Learning Environments for Young Children by Cathy Nutbrown, Peter Clough, Kay Davies and Peter Hannon | Sage Editions | Paperback: £27.99 | E-book: £24.99

This book takes an in-depth look at this important role, focusing on partnerships between professionals and parents and identifying ways to use this connection to enhance family learning for children in early childhood.

Using a broad approach to home learning, the authors examine strategies to improve family involvement across a range of real-world scenarios, such as: family literacy for imprisoned parents, multilingualism in community settings and host families. The wealth of collective knowledge shared here – all the authors are experts in their field – is well exhibited, and rather than producing a dry analogy of information on the subject of home learning, they have produced a practical manual putting highlighting many educational obstacles that are part of the uneven playing field, many children will continue to navigate throughout their lives.

I found the chapter on professional development particularly interesting, asking us to recognize the difference between ‘professional development’ and ‘training’ – and the real case studies are both relevant and easy to relate to professional practice.

50 fantastic ideas to encourage diversity and inclusion by June O’Sullivan and Nausheen Khan | Feather| Paperback: £12.99 | E-book: £11.69

Covering important topics such as gender, race, ethnicity, age, and mental health, this book is designed to help practitioners gain the confidence to create an inclusive environment.

Each of the 50 activities is really clear, simple and easy to understand, and there are some great ideas here that look great fun, with all the activities accompanied by photographs of children participating in them.

In keeping with the author’s belief that children can be active agents of change, all activities encourage children to ask questions, challenge biases and celebrate diversity through learning experiences.

The book’s final activity, “Building a Social Inclusion Network,” offers guidelines for creating a community of practice to share ideas and information, and provide support; extend the theme of inclusion to the adult workplace.

Karen Hart is a London-based education writer

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Alycia R. Lindley