Erikson Institute Hosts First International Symposium on Early Mathematics, April 17–18

Chicago (April 17–18, 2009) — Internationally known scholars from Australia, China, Japan, and Singapore join members of Erikson Institute’s Early Mathematics Education Project on Friday and Saturday, April 17–18, to examine how to boost math skills among very young children in the U.S. The sold-out symposium, “Bringing an international perspective to Illinois,” will be held at Erikson from 9 a.m. to 4 p.m.

At all ages, American students lag behind students in many other countries in mathematics. Erikson research has shown that in Chicago, the gap begins in kindergarten and even before: only 21 percent of kindergarten and preschool classrooms cover mathematical concepts on any given day, compared to 90 percent for language arts. What’s more, a majority of pre-K teachers are not confident enough of their own math knowledge to teach it.

Symposium participants include Illinois educators, administrators, researchers, and policymakers who want to increase their understanding of primary and pre-primary math education and learn how to improve it. Research shows that early understanding of math concepts is related to both math and problem-solving skills and reading and comprehension in later grades. Further, there is a direct correlation between the amount of time preschool teachers spend talking about math and their students’ math performance.

Presenters include Liping Ma, Kiyomi Akita, Lyn English, Joanne Mulligan, Ban Har Yeap, and Angela Giglio Andrews. Closing remarks will be delivered by Erikson founder and chief of the Chicago Public Schools’ Office of Early Childhood Education, Barbara T. Bowman, currently a consultant to the Department of Education.

Topics include:
•    Teachers’ understanding of fundamental mathematics in the U.S. and China
•    Disadvantages young children face in learning math in the U.S.
•    Connecting pre-primary to primary mathematics learning in Japan
•    Research on young children’s capacity for analogical reasoning, modeling, problem solving, and more.

For complete information, go to Funding for this symposium and a second, to be held in 2010, was provided by the McCormick Foundation.

About Erikson’s Early Mathematics Education Project
The Early Mathematics Education Project improves math education in Chicago Public Schools’ pre-K and kindergarten classrooms through teacher workshops on early math concepts and teaching, classroom observation, and on-site support. Project coaches help nearly 100 teachers each year move beyond counting to recognize critical mathematical concepts—concepts such as comparison, measurement, and pattern—and incorporate them into their teaching.

About Erikson Institute
The nation’s only graduate school to focus exclusively on child development from birth to age eight, Erikson is an independently accredited institution that prepares a wide variety of child development professionals for leadership in the field. The school’s academic programs, applied and policy research, clinical services, and work with public and private agencies advances the ability of educators, practitioners, researchers and decision-makers to improve the lives of children and their families.