"And my heart is thinking" : perceptions of new entrant children and their parents on transition to primary school numeracy.
Degree GrantorUniversity of Canterbury
Degree NameMaster of Teaching and Learning
This research project examines how new entrant children and their parents experience and interpret the transition from early childhood education to primary school learning of numeracy. It investigates children's numeracy experiences in the context of the Early Numeracy Project (ENP) and within the constructivist environment of a numeracy classroom focussing on achievement of prescribed outcomes. This setting contrasts with early childhood education, where there is a greater focus on socio-cultural learning. The research reported is a qualitative investigation and uses a multiple case study approach. The participants are five children from a new entrant classroom and their parents. The main sources of data are participant observation in the classroom and unstructured interviews. The interview discussion is stimulated in some instances by photographs taken by the children and on other occasions by children demonstrating to parents the use of numeracy equipment to support their learning. The study illustrates how teacher beliefs and knowledge of numeracy pedagogy impact on the children's interpretation of numeracy learning. The findings suggest that the ENP is limiting the range of meaningful numeracy experiences in the new entrant classroom and that the Numeracy Development Project should provide further information on the pedagogy of numeracy knowledge which could bridge early childhood and primary school numeracy learning. The findings also suggest that professional development in the form of coaching should support teachers following their introductory year of ENP. In this study the primary school teacher and parents had little opportunity to explore the philosophy and discuss the content of the children's early childhood education and experiences. Consequently the children were making the transition to school without the adults in their lives understanding the extent of the children's transition. This study's focus is the transition to learning school numeracy. The study also finds that during the children's first term at school parents gauged the content of the numeracy programme from the children's play at home. Parents were impressed with their children's enthusiasm and progress. During this period communication with the school about the children's numeracy learning was largely initiated by parents and there was no opportunity for them to be involved in the numeracy programme at school.