General Progression through Science and Maths

In a recent lecture we discussed the main points of progression through science and maths – points that can progress through every topic.

We spoke about unstructured play, concrete experiences, teacher dependence and the type of language used. When children are first introduced to the world of science or maths, whether that be in the early or first stages they will partake in unstructured play. This is where they play on their own, or with friends and do their own thing – pick their own toys and play as they wish. An example of this could be filling jugs with sand and pouring it out, or mixing sand with water to create sludge. Now as they progress through the curriculum and their knowledge is increased, they will advance onto structured play. This is a more focused form of play where the child knows what they are doing and chooses how they play based on their knowledge. This could be measuring specifically using millimetres and knowing mixing two substances can create a chemical reaction.

For a child to progress from concrete experiences to abstract experiences means that they move from using what happens around them or their previous experiences to thinking in an abstract and creative way. It requires them to use their brain to think up new experiences in their head rather than relying on things that they already know to be true. For example, their concrete experience of numbers is that they start at zero and work up in ones – 1,2,3,4 etc. However, when negative numbers are introduced, and decimals, fractions or percentages they must begin to think of numbers in a completely different way and use their imagination in order to help them progress further.

One of the biggest parts of progression is for the children to develop from being teacher dependent to being teacher independent. This speaks for itself, in the sense that in the beginning of any learning, the child will rely quite heavily on the teacher and the teachers instructions and guidance. In order for the child to move away from this and become more independent they must gain confidence in themselves. One of the most simple examples is when the children start learning the 2x table. They begin by repeating after the teacher, looking to the teacher for guidance or advice if they aren’t sure, reciting at the same time as their teacher. However, once they have fully learned the 2x table and become confident, the children are capable of tackling it on their own – independent of their teacher.

Another point of progression is the type of language used. In the beginning of learning, we use everyday language in maths and science, which develops into using the proper terminology of mathematic and scientific language as they get older. An example in science is that we speak about ‘guessing’ which turns into ‘hypothesising’, and when we learn about how flowers grow in the first stages, there is no mention of photosynthesis until second stage. This is important as at a younger age or lower stage there is no need to confuse the children with complicated words. What is crucial is that they fully understand what they are learning first, this way, we ensure that progression is a smooth process.

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