We are delighted to share with you this exclusive interview with Lynda Keith, author of Developing Young Children’s Mathematical Learning Outdoors.
The focus of the value of outdoor learning experiences has greatly increased in the past few years and is on the national agenda in the UK. Most recent documentation and research in Scotland where I am based is highlighting the importance of quality learning spaces and I am particularly interested in how young children’s mathematical learning can be promoted to increase motivation, application and positive attitudes in outdoor spaces. For me the book combines the best of both topics and offers a valuable context for play – based opportunities alongside the potential for mathematical development.
What are the key features of a mathematically rich outdoor environment?
The book illustrates the interrelated nature of the physical, social and learning environment and outlines 12 key features as indicators of an effective mathematically rich environment outdoors. The features are:
1. Provides flexible areas
2. Enables children to link different aspects of mathematical play
3. Develops choice and decision making
4. Offers challenge and problem solving opportunities
5. Enables children to make sense of the mathematical world around them
6. Starts from the child’s curiosity and freedom to investigate.
7. Promotes new language in new contexts and language of inquiry.
8. Offers opportunities to develop mathematical skills across the areas.
9. Provides open- ended resources to support all aspects of mathematical learning
10. Offers a fun, active and challenging environment with promotes active thinking.
11. Encourages multisensory learning.
12. Values children’s mathematical graphics and recording.
How can an adult best support young children in their mathematical learning?
The adult has a vital role in observing, engaging children in age -appropriate dialogue and quality interaction, asking and modelling questions and valuing that children have very different starting points of interest and development which we have to build on and nurture.
What is the one message you hope readers take away from your book?
I hope that readers can take away practical advice on how the outdoor environment can enhance young children’s mathematical learning and also deepen their understanding of the key concepts being developed as a foundation for later enjoyment and understanding in maths.
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