Community colleges prepare many of the teachers in Illinois’s childcare and Head Start centers, but ensuring that these teachers have the early math knowledge they need is a challenge. That’s where Erikson comes in.

Image: child counting

The Early Mathematics Education Project is launching a four-year initiative to raise awareness of the importance of preparing educators to teach foundational math and to give early childhood education faculty the tools they need to do so.

Currently, many community colleges’ education programs are not able to offer enough quality course work in early math. This quickly cascades down: graduates aren’t prepared to teach math concepts to the young children they work with, and children begin school without the foundation of knowledge they need for elementary math.

The Early Mathematics Education Project will partner with community colleges to help early education faculty develop a strong understanding of foundational mathematics and how to integrate it into their courses.

“Improving the training teachers receive as they are first preparing to teach offers real possibilities for improving early mathematics education throughout Chicago and Illinois – and in helping children succeed in school,” says Jennifer McCray, Ph.D., the project’s director.

Central to the program is a set of 10 early mathematics modules emphasizing topics – from patterns and regularity to numbers and counting – of greatest importance to young children. The modules provide structure and materials for community college faculty to use as they train teachers, as well as sample lessons and activities for children.

The modules were first tested as part of the Early Mathematics Education Project’s professional development program for Chicago Public School teachers.
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The community college initiative is made possible by a generous $450,000 grant from the Robert R. McCormick Foundation. The foundation has supported the Early Mathematics Education Project since the inception of the project in 2007.