How do early childhood educators feel about math? A 90-minute workshop intended to increase awareness and knowledge of early child mathematics was designed, implemented, and evaluated. Using a convenience sample of 23 graduate students enrolled in a Master of Arts program in Early Childhood Education, the workshop included opportunities for the participants to engage in a variety of hands-on, manipulative activities designed for young children to demonstrate playfulness in math. Data from pre and post workshop questionnaires revealed trends that are likely to underpin early childhood educators’ reluctance to engage in math activities with young children. Negative math experiences in school seem to have an enduring impact. While professional development often highlights the importance of math in early childhood and emphasizes the critical roles of early childhood educators to provide a wide range of math opportunities to young children, it may fall short of having a lasting impact as a result of overall negative math feelings. Reawakening educators’ playfulness with math is suggested as a novel starting point.
Reyes, D. O. & Rothstein-Fisch, C. (accepted for fall 2021). Journal of Mathematics Education.