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Harnessing Early Spatial Learning Using Technological and Traditional Tools at Home

  • Joanne LeeEmail author
  • Ariel Ho
  • Eileen Wood
Chapter
Part of the Mathematics Education in the Digital Era book series (MEDE, volume 10)

Abstract

Parents and early childhood educators share a unique role in scaffolding the acquisition of foundational mathematical concepts in young children. Targeting early skill development is critical as differences in children’s early mathematical competence emerge as young as four years old, and these differences persist into formal schooling (e.g., Duncan et al. in Dev Psychol, 43(6):1428–1446, 2007). Skills in geometry and spatial sense represent one of the mathematical strands recommended by the National Council of Teachers of Mathematics (NCTM) in the United States that can be acquired by young children prior to formal schooling. This chapter introduces important differences in spatial talk and activities elicited during play by parents and early childhood educators both in the context of traditional 3-dimensional play (e.g., blocks and puzzles) environments and virtual 2-dimensional digital formats (e.g., iPads® and computers). Substantial literature reveals the important array of creative and educational experiences afforded through play and particularly manipulatives. This chapter reviews previous research and extends findings to digital contexts involving our youngest learners and discusses ways to capitalize on the affordances offered by both digital applications and traditional manipulatives to harness children’s spatial learning. We also examine the benefits and concerns about educational software programs (e.g., what makes educational software programs more or less effective) in general and in the context of mathematics education.

Keywords

Early learning software Parents and math development Children’s spatial knowledge Spatial play Scaffolding children’s learning 

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© Springer International Publishing AG, part of Springer Nature 2018

Authors and Affiliations

  1. 1.Department of PsychologyWilfrid Laurier UniversityWaterloo, OntarioCanada

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