Benefits for Educators
The Value of STEP
As teachers, we see young children using mathematics every day. They are naturally curious about numbers, shapes, and patterns they see in their world. They compare who has more crackers on their plate at snack time, recognize shapes in the classroom, and they figure out how to equally share toys in the sand box. But, children have to have opportunities to engage in mathematics, and be taught foundational mathematics skills in order to develop their later mathematics abilities. STEP helps teachers introduce mathematics concepts, such as addition, measurement, and patterns, in fun and developmentally appropriate ways.
STEP also supports teachers’ understanding of how children’s mathematics and executive function (EF) skills are inter-dependent. For example, teaching children multiple strategies for solving word problems, and when to use which strategy, increases both cognitive flexibility and mathematics performance. Similarly supporting both children’s inhibitory control and also their dot enumeration abilities could improve children’s subitizing (ability to see a small number of objects and know how many there are without counting).
Sometimes, teachers express uncertainty about how to best support children's understanding of mathematics concepts, and the EF skills that may support their mathematics learning. STEP's learning and coaching process helps teachers gain the information they need, suggest strategies, and provide encouragement and motivation for supporting learning and development in the preschool classroom.
Many teachers report being able to:
- Better understand how young children learn different mathematics skills.
- Try out strategies that support children's mathematics learning.
- Confidently implement mathematics activities in the classroom.
- Understand how children’s executive function skills support their mathematics development, and incorporate activities that simultaneously support both areas.
My take-away from (STEP) is that I realized I did not do any sort of formal teaching of shapes. I introduced shapes and I read a story about shapes...but I never talked about the properties of a shape. Like this (shape) has straight lines. This one has corners. This has three straight lines. It’s given me much more purpose to my teaching. - Participating STEP teacher
The STEP Program Includes:
- Online learning modules to help teachers understand the inter-connections among math and EF, and support both through high-quality math instruction.
- On-going support from a coach to improve and individualize teachers' math instruction in the classroom.
- Resources and support to teach mathematics in engaging and developmentally appropriate ways.