A child is on the carpet working diligently to put a puzzle together. Another child’s curiosity is piqued by the puzzle. She heads over, sits down on the carpet, and starts trying to help the other child put the puzzle together. Suddenly screams are being let out, as the first student becomes infuriated that another child is touching her puzzle. Kimi, a teacher in the classroom, calmly walks to the carpet and explains, “Oh, I see that you are upset because your friend picked up one of your puzzle pieces. I wonder if we could all do the puzzle together? Do you think that the two of you could work on it together?” The child, who has now stopped screaming, entranced by the calmness in Kimi’s voice, looks at her teacher with bright eyes. She slowly nods yes, still a little unsure about sharing the puzzle. Before long, and with encouragement from Kimi, the two students are smiling as they complete the puzzle collaboratively.
Pre-kindergarten teachers like Kimi are prepared to handle the social and emotional problems that arise daily in their classrooms. Equipped with hours of training and education, pre-k teachers are experts in the field of social-emotional development. But as Haipei, Kimi’s co-teacher at the CISC, explains, this same training and support does not exist for math in early childhood education, “I never specifically learned about math in a pre-k setting. I mean, we focused a lot on social-emotional development, but never really on math.” That is why Haipei says she is so excited about Zeno’s partnership with CISC (Chinese Information Service Center).
As part of our partnership, Zeno will be delivering math games biweekly to CISC’s pre-k classrooms, Play & Learn Groups, and their Parent Child Home Visiting program. In addition, classroom teachers will receive one-on-one math coaching from a Zeno Math Specialist and all of CISC’s early childhood workers will participate three Zeno-led professional learning sessions. These professional learning sessions will focus on best practices for teaching math, best practices for forming family partnerships, and math content in a pre-k setting.
Kimi, the lead teacher at CISC, says she is most excited to have families receive hands-on games and materials. Kimi explained, “When I told families about the partnership, they were so thrilled. Just seeing their smiles and excitement about receiving math games for the home was so exciting!” Kimi went on to say that a lot of families do not realize just how capable even our youngest learners are of doing math. She said that by sending home the games, she believes families will have the tools to realize that their child is capable of doing math, and that families can practice it right at home! And that is precisely Zeno’s goal, to get math games and manipulatives into the home so that families realize that math can be fun and accessible to all children and adults, regardless of age or skill level. When we make math fun and engaging, the possibilities are infinite!