Building an Early Math Foundation

Math is a language we all use but at various levels of complexity and confidence that are likely linked to our early math experiences in school.   Research shows that early math understanding is critical to ongoing engagement and success with higher level concepts.  Specifically, the development of number sense, or the ability to think flexibly about quantity, is a key foundational skill on which algebraic thinking is based.  Math Professor Jo Boaler of Stanford University says, When students fail algebra it is often because they don’t have number sense.”

Like reading skills, mathematical understanding begins developing at a very young age.  In order to build the foundation our students need to be successful mathematicians throughout life, we must consistently provide them with rich, engaging, and developmentally appropriate experiences that nurture healthy attitudes as well as strong skills and practices.  Beginning with our youngest learners, we are thoughtfully utilizing our knowledge of child development, content, and best practices to achieve the following overarching goals:

  • Students will have a growth mindset about mathematics in which they believe everyone has the ability to become good at math by learning strategies and developing skills.
  • Students will have a firm understanding of mathematical concepts while developing procedural knowledge and fluency.
  • Students will understand that there are multiple ways to solve problems, look for different approaches, and be able to explain their thinking to others.

The beauty of teaching is the ongoing need to learn.  As we look to develop these foundational skills in our students, we are reexamining and deepening our own understanding of what it means to learn math.  It has been fascinating and fulfilling to be a part of our productive struggle.  I created a Storify to curate and make our progress visible.



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