Scielo RSS <![CDATA[South African Journal of Childhood Education]]> vol. 8 num. 2 lang. es <![CDATA[SciELO Logo]]> <![CDATA[<b>Music-inspired free play to foster scientific exploration in early childhood</b>]]> BACKGROUND: The importance of music and play in early childhood development is widely acknowledged. However, no recent studies have investigated the potential of music-inspired free play to foster scientific exploration. AIM: The purpose of this qualitative case study is to explain the rationale in utilising musical skills, knowledge and experiences during free play to foster scientific exploration, applying a constructivist approach with the learner placed at the centre of the educational process, while the teacher acts as observer and facilitator. SETTING: Data were primarily collected through documents to create a concept map that informed observations of preschoolers during free play at two day-care centres in Mohadin in the North-West Province of South Africa. METHODS: An explanatory case study provided the context for this study and a document analysis informed the findings. RESULTS: Through data analysis, key themes were identified from the literature and observations to generate a conceptual model that illustrates the influence of music-inspired free play to foster scientific exploration by stimulating creativity and emphasising the necessity of free play in preschool settings. CONCLUSION: The conclusion of this investigation was a better understanding of the capacity of young learners to apply scientific exploration, utilising a transdisciplinary approach for teaching and learning the sciences in the early years to develop a better understanding of their world through music-inspired free play. <![CDATA[<b>Perceptual-motor contributors to the association between developmental coordination disorder and academic performance: North-West Child Health, Integrated with Learning and Development study</b>]]> BACKGROUND: Children with developmental coordination disorder (DCD) portray motor coordination and perceptual difficulties which can hamper daily activity and academic task execution. AIM: This study examined the association between DCD and academic performance, and explored which perceptual and motor coordination skills had the largest contribution to academic performance. SETTING: Ten-year-old children (N = 221, 10.05 years + 0.41 standard deviation) who formed part of the North-West Child Health, Integrated with Learning and Development (NW-CHILD) longitudinal study in South Africa were randomly selected to participate. METHODS: Motor coordination, visual-motor integration and academic achievement were assessed using the Movement Assessment Battery for Children-2, the Beery-Buktenica Developmental Test of Visual-Motor Integration-4, and national and mid-year assesments respectively. Spearman Rank order correlations and stepwise regression analyses were used to respectively determine significant associations and unique contributors. RESULTS: All perceptual and coordination skills differed between children with and without DCD, although only visual perception and manual dexterity showed overall correlations with academic performance in children with DCD. Visual perception also correlated strongly with maths (r = 0.26) and with the grade point average (r = 0.31) in children with and without DCD (r = 0.33, r = 0.45). The highest contribution to the total variance (23.11%) in math performance was explained by visual perception (22.04%), while visual perception contributed to 16.36% of 18.17% in the grade point average. CONCLUSION: Children with DCD display significantly inferior visual-perceptual and coordination skills of which visual perception and manual dexterity influence academic performance (especially maths), negatively. <![CDATA[<b>Early algebra: Repeating pattern and structural thinking at foundation phase</b>]]> BACKGROUND: Working structurally with patterns at foundation phase (FP) enhances habits of mind that advance early algebra at this early stage of mathematical learning. The South African curriculum proposes that learners work with and understand the logic of a pattern, but this important idea has largely been neglected in classroom texts and in the supporting texts that guide teachers regarding curriculum implementation. At FP, most problems dealing with cyclical structure operate at a level of extending sequences by producing the next item that continues the order in which items are presented AIM: The purpose of this article is to examine the curriculum documents and teaching resources used by FP teachers to deal with repeating patterns. Across the elementary mathematical landscape, there are opportunities to work explicitly with structure in its various conceptual embodiments SETTING: Six Grade 2 teachers in public schools participated in three workshops that foreground a structural approach to teaching pattern METHODS: A thorough document study was conducted to ascertain what the curriculum and supporting texts make available for the teaching and learning of repeating pattern RESULTS: A more structural approach fosters algebraic habits of mind that lead to more sophisticated forms of mathematical reasoning. A typology that summarises the relational features, intended skills development, complexity of sequences and the use of structural features on four levels is proposed to guide practice towards structural exploration CONCLUSION: Focusing on the cyclical structural aspects embedded in repeating patterns inducts the young learner into relational thinking that advance early algebra <![CDATA[<b>Lesotho Grade R teachers' mathematical knowledge for teaching numeracy</b>]]> BACKGROUND: It is important that mathematics teachers have a robust knowledge of the mathematics they teach. They need more than just knowledge of the content because they are expected to facilitate understanding of the content with their learners. This study focused on the knowledge of practising Grade R teachers from Lesotho AIM: The purpose of this exploratory study was to explore practising Grade R teachers' mathematical knowledge for the teaching of numeracy SETTING: The study was conducted with 48 practising Grade R teachers while they were enrolled in an in-service programme at a College of Education in Lesotho METHODS: Data was generated through the use of questionnaires. The questionnaire included items focusing on the four domains of knowledge, namely common content knowledge, special content knowledge, knowledge of content and students, and knowledge of content and teaching RESULTS: The findings revealed that some teachers were unable to carry out division problems accurately and many struggled to explain the possible modification of a teaching plan. Only 27% of the group were able to explain that there were levels of understanding numeracy. With respect to ordering a sequence of three topics, only 15% of the teachers produced a reasonable sequence CONCLUSION: These teachers' difficulties raise concerns about the effectiveness of their teaching of numeracy. Despite the Lesotho government's commitment to improving the learning of mathematics at the Grade R level, much more work is required to be conducted with teachers so that their mathematical knowledge for teaching (MKT) numeracy can be improved <![CDATA[<b>Pre-service primary Mathematics teachers' understanding of fractions: An action-process-object-schema perspective</b>]]> BACKGROUND: The concept of rational numbers is one of the learner's first experiences with a Mathematics concept beyond the basic skills operations on whole numbers. The personal knowledge of fractions that teachers bring to the teaching context is important because teachers mediate the conceptions that their learners construct AIM: This study was set up to apply Action-Process-Object-Schema theory to study primary teachers' understanding of addition and subtraction of fractions SETTING: The participants of this study comprised 60 undergraduate full-time students, studying to become teachers. The participants were enrolled in a foundational course in Mathematics because they had not passed Mathematics at Grade 12 level. This course was intended to help deepen their understanding of basic numeracy, allowing them to continue with further courses if they wanted to specialise in teaching primary mathematics METHODS: Data were collected using written responses of the pre-service students to two tasks that focused on operations with fractions. Ten students volunteered to be interviewed of which three are drawn upon in this article RESULTS: Many of the pre-service teachers coped well with addition and subtraction of common fractions with the same denominator. However, more than 52% struggled to carry out these operations on common fractions with different denominators, showing that their conceptions had not developed into object-level structures CONCLUSION: It is evident that the incorrect procedures have become embedded in the students mental schema. It is crucial that programmes for upgrading pre-service teachers should include opportunities for teachers to interrogate their personal understandings of the basic mathematics concepts <![CDATA[<b>Meerkat Maths - A comprehensive maths learning programme for Grade-R</b>]]> BACKGROUND: Several studies have shown the influence of mathematical knowledge on both individual opportunities and chances for a self-determined and prosperous life as well as the welfare of nations. Against this background, the contents of maths education in the foundation phase as well as the way in which it is conveyed gain importance. While competence-oriented approaches (e.g. the Curriculum Assessment Policy Statements [CAPS]) state learning goals that all learners should achieve, developmental approaches (e.g. developmental models) describe typical learning trajectories of learners. As both approaches are quite separated, there is a need for bridging the gap between them AIM: This article aims at revisiting the CAPS critically and comparing contents for early numeracy instruction. A possible alternative to the CAPS is intended SETTING: In this article, we describe a maths learning programme for Grade-R (Meerkat Maths) that combines and integrates empirical findings and curricular demands. The presented maths training aims at teaching maths in such a way that it suits children's development, raises a positive attitude towards maths and also meets educational expectations METHODS: Contents of the training programme and the CAPS are compared against the background of empirical research on numerical development and predictors for arithmetic performance RESULTS: The results reveal that research based math instruction can be conveyed in a formal training programme CONCLUSION: Keeping in mind the qualifications and training of Grade-R teachers, teacher training is necessarily embedded in the programme. Thus, the described programme is a comprehensive application of recent research for maths classes in the early grades <![CDATA[<b>Utilising a cultural-historical analysis to map the historicity of Social Studies, Natural Science and Technology education in the early years</b>]]> BACKGROUND: South Africa needs citizens who are morally sound, adaptive to change, technologically innovative and literate in socio-scientific issues. The young child is apparently being prepared for active citizenry through basic "Social Science, Natural Sciences and Technology" education as encapsulated in the South African curriculum AIM: We foreground a theoretical and analytical framework to map the cultural-historical trajectory of South Africa's Beginning Knowledge curriculum SETTING: Cultivating citizenship requires that these science subject domains be incorporated in a coherent, well-conceptualised and relevant early childhood curriculum as suggested by international literature. Educators need to be specialists in socio-scientific issues in both the content and pedagogy of these sciences in order to expound the curriculum METHODS: Our newly coined hybridised theoretical framework - the 'Hybrid CHAT' - together with an aligned analytical framework enabled us to illuminate the historical subject-didactical genetic development of Beginning Knowledge. An extensive sample of typographical textbooks, artefacts and cultural tools were analysed and interpreted RESULTS: Beginning Knowledge is afforded limited teaching time. The knowledge, skills and values associated with these science subjects serve to support and strengthen the acquisition of language and mathematics competencies. Currently, Beginning Knowledge does not sufficiently prepare child citizens for the global demands of the 21st century CONCLUSION: Hybrid CHAT could invite further studies to place Beginning Knowledge on par with international curricula. This would also align the curriculum with the aspirations for an ideal South African citizenry as well as prepare child citizens to pursue Science and Technology for social development