According to recent research the operation of counting is not an exclusively stage-based competency, but rather a “specific dominion” dependent on situations where children find they need, or wish, to carry it out. Much depends on what they are counting, the strategies they use, representations they have already built up or constructed, ways of counting they have tried out and experimented with before, and the meanings given to this.
Mathematics is generally associated with symbolic procedures and competencies, and today we know children’s capacity for symbolisation is present from birth, obviously in age-related forms. Indicators of symbolic competency can be seen in precursory gestures, such as finger pointing which is a precursor of naming, the peek-a-boo game which is a precursor of conversation, and making rows and lines of objects which is a precursor of ordinals and cardinals.
The procedures of counting, like those of writing, and before that of speaking, turn into tools for knowing the world, but for children they are themselves objects of knowledge, to be known. When children begin to chant their numbers verbally, when they begin to actually count, using their fingers or making rows of objects, when they set the table for friends at school, and represent quantities in a drawing, they are carrying out processes that are processes of describing experience to themselves and to others.
This webinar will give us starting points for designing and constructing contexts in our daily lives that solicit and provoke the children, capable of supporting children’s research in the area of numbers, and at the same time capable of supporting children’s reflective capacities, their capacity for building connections between experiences, words, and concepts.