An innovative maths program co-developed by a leading Charles Sturt University (CSU) education academic has been implemented in 76 selected preschools in Victoria, with more to follow.
Professor Bob Perry (pictured), Adjunct Research Professor in the Research Institute for Professional Practice, Learning and Education (RIPPLE), devised the Let's Count maths program for children aged three to five with Professor Ann Gervasoni from Monash University, and with the charity The Smith Family.
"The Let's Count program is a response to a particular need," Professor Perry said.
"It is well known that children learn a great deal of mathematics before they start school. It is also known that children's early mathematics learning is likely to support their later achievement in mathematics. Young children learn mathematics – and many other things – through a variety of pedagogical approaches, but one of the most likely is play."
Professor Perry said Let's Count is an early mathematics program designed to assist parents and other family members help their young children aged three to five years to play, investigate and learn powerful mathematical ideas.
"Through this play and investigation, the aim is for the children and adults to develop positive dispositions to learning as well as mathematical knowledge and skills," he said. "Let's Count relies on parents and other family members providing the opportunities for children to engage with the mathematics present in their everyday lives, talk about it, document it, and extend it in ways that are relevant."
Let's Count assists early childhood educators to work with families in order to achieve these aims.
Longitudinal evaluations of Let's Count by Professor Perry and Professor Gervasoni from Monash University have shown growth in children's mathematical knowledge and dispositions, and increased competence and confidence in mathematical engagement among early childhood educators and family members.
The Let's Count program was developed specifically for use in the 94 communities across Australia in which The Smith Family works. It began with a small number of these communities (five across five states, one in Victoria). The Australian government has provided $4 million over four years to The Smith Family to roll-out Let's Count in communities across Australia, and it is currently being implemented in 70 communities.