Problem Solving, Reasoning and Numeracy

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This account will demonstrate through an enquiry based topic a knowledge and understanding of the range of Problem Solving, Reasoning and Numeracy (PSRN) and knowledge and understanding of the world (KUW) in Early Years The assignment will link theories to practice through practitioners planning. The enquiry based topic will take place within a private day nursery located within the grounds of a primary school. It is set in a rural, affluent area of North East England. The day care setting cares of children aged 2 to 8 years.

The setting currently has no identified children with additional needs. An Early Years Consultant from the Early Years Support Team observed the activity and interactions. For this activity the children were aged 3 and 4 years old and consisted of a small group of four children, three girls and one boy. There were three other practitioners on duty and two other children aged three and two. The day nursery provision uses the Early Years Foundation Stage Framework (EYFS) for children from birth to 5 incorporates the six areas of learning and development.

These development areas are, Personal, Social and Emotional Development (PSE), Communication, Language and Literacy Development (CLL), Problem Solving, Reasoning and Numeracy Development (PSRN), Knowledge and Understanding of the World (KUW), Physical Development (PD) and Creative Development (CD). “Practitioners must be familiar with the contents of the areas of Learning and Development in order to support children’s learning and development. ” (EYFS, 2008, p11) The curriculum is planned in stages, short term and long term plans.

The long term plan encompasses a year and incorporates the early learning goals however the plan is not rigid and can be adapted and changed depending on children and circumstances. Children develop at different rates so practitioners ensure that they provide a holistic approach when planning the curriculum. This assignment will focus on the development of Problem Solving, Reasoning and Numeracy (PSRN) these key elements includes shape, number, size, space and measure. The short term plan (weekly) uses the topic identified in the long term plan as a focus.

Children are assessed against the curriculums Early Learning Goals. These are broken down into stages of development related to age. Piaget believed that through the use of observations practitioners are able to capture children’s abilities and interests and enable them to identify the stage of development for that individual child. This provides practitioners with accurate information to facilitae future teaching and learning. This is recorded on the short term plan. ” Free flow play is valuable in the child’s education and unique in the contribution it makes” (Bruce, 1991, p57)

Children have access to free flow play within the setting. Play areas are defined into specific areas such as role play, creative or small world, each area is supported holistically. Mathematics can be found in all defined areas within the setting. I. e. counting out cups and saucers when setting the table in the role play area. Tina Bruce (1994) stated that according to Joan Tamburrini (1982), adults should provide a stimulating and appropriate environment and to convey children’s ideas and thoughts in future planning.

To enable the practitioner to carry out the enquiry based topic prior observations were carried out which identified the children’s specific interests. The children had previously planted spring bulbs and these were now in flower. Children have discussed the concepts of big and small, tall and short. Within the EYFS this activity promoted knowledge and understanding of the world ( KUW) and also PSRN. This concept was then extended within a further planned activity to look at shapes and the similarities and differences in everyday objects. This promotes children’s understanding of shapes. Begin to talk about the shapes of everyday objects – show curiosity about and observation of shapes by talking how they are the same or different” (EYFS, 2008, p74) The practitioners discussed with the team what the learning intention of this activity would be, how this could be achieved, who would carry this out, when and using what resources. Key vocabulary was identified which was appropriate for this age group. ( Appendix A).

Practitioners discussed key questions that would direct a child’s learning such as, “What does this brush feel like? ” Although questions such as, “Can you find another brush that feels the same? would support those children who may struggle with descriptive vocabulary. The use of open and closed questioning were planned to ensure that all children’s abilities and interests are considered during this activity. It was identified that the age range of the group ranged from 2 – 4 years therefore the objects used would have to be familiar to all ages, key vocabulary needed to incorporate simple and complex words such as soft, hard, natural, plastic promoting inclusive practice. Following this meeting a lesson plan, appendix A was completed. This was then shared with the mentor.

The learning outcomes were agreed, appendix A and the mentor established the practitioners understanding of where these learning outcomes link to the early year’s curriculum and they ensured that the activity differentiated between each child’s ability and development need. This activity would need the support of an adult and is an adult initiated activity. The theorist Lev Vygotsky believed that although play was important in children’s ability to learn he felt that the role of the adult was crucial in their learning, Zone of Proximal Development, (ZPD).

Vygotsky suggests that children learn through watching and listening to adults and how they model behaviour. This activity links strongly with Vygotskys theory, however Piaget would criticise the need for adult’s to support the child’s learning during this activity. Through this activity children would be given the opportunity to explore and discover new objects and ask their own questions. Piaget believed that children construct their own knowledge through their own experiences of the world around them. They learn from ‘doing’ rather than being told what to do.

Both theorists play a key role in this activity to promote children’s learning and development. A date and time was arranged with the mentor to carry out the activity and observation. The mentor discussed her role during the activity and gave the practitioner opportunity for any final questions. Appendix B. The children, who had arrived prior to the mentor and were seated at a small table, were introduced to the mentor but were already fairly familiar with her previously. This activity was carried out on the low table with small stools placed around it.

On the table was placed a wicker basket containing various familiar objects, see appendix A. This basket and objects were then covered with a large piece of material. The practitioners sat at the table and started to feel the objects through the material. Two children came straight over and started to copy the practitioner. Bruner suggested that adults role of modelling behaviour is crucial in their social development. The practitioner asked the children, “What could be under here? Can you feel it and guess what it is? The children felt for a few minutes but curiosity got the better of them and they lifted up the material to look underneath.

The practitioner and the children, another two children had also joined the table started to pick up the objects and explore them. The practitioner asked if they knew what the objects were. R, aged 4, easily named the objects while C, aged 3 knew nearly all. CA, who was 2 years old didn’t speak but played with the objects for a few moments, then left the table. The practitioner prompted the children by saying “I have a brush and it feels really soft, is there another brush with soft bristles? ” R instantly picked up another brush and felt the bristles. “No this is prickly” she then placed it back on the table.

R picked up another brush and felt it, “here’s one” she said, she then rubbed it up against the practitioner face, “see it’s soft”. The practitioner praised R and confirmed that it was soft. The practitioner then told R that the two brushes were the same but the other brush that was prickly was not the same so it was different. The practitioner then asked R if she could find two things that were the same as each other. R picked up a yellow ball and a yellow ring. She confirmed they were the same colour. C had watched R and then she too picked up a small ball and a large ball.

The practitioner praised her and said that they were both balls so they were the same. R interrupted and said, “yes but ones big and ones small. ” Again the practitioner praised both children. Both children smiled and started to choose items that were the same as each other. CH had been watching the activity and initially started to join in however in the basket was a skittle and a ball. CH who was 4 years old, told the practitioner what they were and what you did with them. He then picked up the objects and finding a space in the room began to play skittles.

This activity clearly did not interest him. The practitioner reflected in the activity at this point and made the decision to follow CH’s play and not bring him back to the focused activity. Schon (1983), described this as refection in action, the ability to think about what you are doing while you are doing it’. The activity continued for 15 – 20 minutes talking about the objects and examining them. The activity developed into an eye spy game with the practitioner starting by saying, “I spy something spiky” This went on until C said, “I spy something beginning with F”.

R and the practitioner looked around the table and spotted a fir-cone which they showed C. “No”, said C and she picked up a threading bead, “F for fred”. The practitioner said, “well done C, that’s a ‘th’ sound, ‘th’ for threading” and modelled the sound with her tongue. The practitioner then detached herself from the activity leaving the two children to continue to play and explore the objects. Using the reflection cycle theory of Kolb the practitioner was able to identify whether objectives were met, how learning can be extended and also identify development needs in other areas, appendix A.

The location for the activity was appropriate and the use of the low table enabled all children to see and handle the objects. There was sufficient room for all four children and the practitioner to work as a group. The resources were successful in providing opportunities for identifying similarities and differences. However on reflection the resources were not stimulating enough to engage the 4 years old boy in the adult led activity. A way of engaging this child would be to plan for a skittles game using skittles of the various colours and various sizes.

Asking the child to knock over skittles of the same colour, same size etc. The game would give the practitioner opportunity to discuss similarities and differences within an activity the child was interested in. Children were praised appropriately demonstrating the theory of Skinner. The children could follow simple instructions and supported each other through role modelling, (Bruner). During the activity it became apparent that one child had a sound knowledge and understanding of same as/different/match while the younger child needed support and simpler instructions in order to understand.

The children competently took turns and shared appropriately indicating they are attaining the appropriate stage of development for their age within the Early Years Foundation Stage, Personal, Social and Emotional area of development. Through the feedback discussion with the mentor, appendix B, the practitioner identified the need to simplify the activity for the younger children. This activity could be carried out again on a carpet area using fewer items so that the younger children may engage.

To continue this concept the practitioner discussed with the mentor incorporating pictures and photographs within the defined areas of the room so that more child-initiated conversations could take place. Using photographs of different sized buildings in the construction area may engage the boys in looking for similarities and differences. The mentor’s verbal feedback was positive and constructive. The children interacted and communicated well with the practitioner. Through facial expressions and body language it was apparent that the children were enjoying the activity and were interested.

In conclusion this activity supported children’s learning and development in mathematics through the knowledge of practitioners on relevant key theorists which also encompasses all areas of learning and through the consultation process with all relevant practitioners ensuring clear objectives for learning. Identifying prior learning, the links to the curriculum and knowledge of each child’s individual stage of development ensured that the activity was inclusive. To extend this activity further, practitioners should provide a smaller scaled activity with fewer objects and plan to create this activity on a carpeted area.

This would support the younger children’s knowledge of differences and matching. Practitioners should also provide opportunities within the defined areas for children to discover similarities and differences in child initiated opportunities. Appendix A and B. Not only did this activity identify children’s development stages for mathematics but it identified additional learning needs relating to Communication, Language and Literacy specifically phonics. Practitioners have since provided picture cards with F and Th to support an individual child’s learning.

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