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Learning progressions

The learning progressions describe the development of understanding in number, measurement and shape in the early years. The term progression implies a continuous, sequential development towards a greater understanding rather than a series of separate tasks that need to be mastered to “move up.” Each of the steps in the progressions represents a significant development in understanding and a lot of learning needs to take place between each step. Children will not necessarily come to understand these concepts in the order they are described, nor will they learn at the same rate. There are no expectations about the ages at which children will gain understanding of these ideas.

Each progression includes a description of the development of key mathematical concepts, an explanation of why the concepts are important, and information about how you can support children to develop these skills and understandings. The progressions are intended as a resource for early childhood educators as they meet the challenging task of helping young children develop their understanding of mathematical concepts. It is important for you to know how the mathematics develops and why, so you can appropriately challenge and support a child’s mathematical thinking.

Interaction ideas

Mathematics arises from events and happenings, play and routines that occur naturally within the early childhood learning environment. Take your lead from the children and their play. Use the opportunities that arise in the context of their play to strengthen children’s mathematical understandings.

The interaction ideas include a variety of questions you can pose as you interact with children to foster their mathematical understandings. The questions are intended as examples and suggestions. Tailor these to what you know already about the children involved, their interests, and their developing understandings.

It is important to follow up on children’s responses to provoke mathematical thinking. Asking children to describe and explain their thinking helps them to clarify their own ideas and gives you insight into their current understandings. Example questions and information to support you in interpreting children’s responses are provided for each step in the progressions.