Skip to main content

Early Math Professional Development: Meeting the Challenge Through Online Learning

Abstract

Early math success in the PreK classroom is recognized as a strong predictor of later academic success. However, many early childhood teachers report they lack the content knowledge, confidence and beliefs to deliver high quality math experiences in their classrooms. Professional development opportunities to gain and expand these skills are often difficult for early childhood educators to access. The purpose of this article is to examine the professional development opportunities available to early childhood educators in the United States and to present a model of professional development that is accessible and effective. This article provides a description of the importance of math in the early years and reveals the need for early math professional development opportunities for early childhood teachers. A portrait of the current state of professional development opportunities for early childhood teachers in the United States is presented along with a presentation of a successful online early math professional development program that was developed to meet the need of early childhood educators. The article ends with implications for current professional development opportunities and ideas for future directions.

This is a preview of subscription content, access via your institution.

Fig. 1

References

  1. Atiles, J. T., Jones, J. L., & Anderson, J. A. (2013). More than a read-aloud: Preparing and inspiring early childhood teachers to develop our future scientists. Teacher Education and Practice,26(2), 285–299.

    Google Scholar 

  2. Barnes, J. K., Guin, A., & Allen, K. (2018). Training needs and online learning preferences of early childhood professionals. Journal of Early Childhood Teacher Education,39(2), 114–130.

    Article  Google Scholar 

  3. Boyd, W., Foster, A., Smith, J., & Boyd, W. E. (2014). Feeling good about teaching mathematics: Addressing anxiety amongst pre-service teachers. Creative Education,05(04), 207–217. https://doi.org/10.4236/ce.2014.54030.

    Article  Google Scholar 

  4. Brenneman, K., Lange, A., & Nayfeld, I. (2019). Integrating STEM into preschool education: Designing a professional development model in diverse settings. Early Childhood Education Journal,47(1), 15–28. https://doi.org/10.1007/s10643-018-0912-z.

    Article  Google Scholar 

  5. Claessens, A., & Engel, M. (2013). How important is where you start? Early mathematics knowledge and later school success. Teachers College Record,115(6), 1–29.

    Google Scholar 

  6. Clark, D. (2007). Exploring the potential of online technology as a tool for informing the practice of license-exempt child care providers. E-Learning,4(1), 24–39.

    Google Scholar 

  7. Cohen, D. K., & Hill, H. C. (2000). Instructional policy and classroom performance: The mathematics reform in California. Teachers College Record,102, 294–343.

    Article  Google Scholar 

  8. Darling-Hammond, L., Hyler, M. E., & Gardner, M. (2017). Effective teacher professional development. Palo Alto, CA: Learning Policy Institute.

    Google Scholar 

  9. Desimone, L. M. (2011). A primer on effective professional development. The Phi Delta Kappan,92(6), 68–71.

    Article  Google Scholar 

  10. Donohue, C., Fox, S., & Torrence, D. (2007). Early childhood educators as eLearners: Engaging approaches to teaching and learning online. Young Children,62(4), 34–40.

    Google Scholar 

  11. Duncan, G., Claessens, A., Huston, A., Pagani, L., Engel, M., Sexton, M., et al. (2007). School readiness and later achievement. Developmental Psychology,43(6), 1428–1446.

    Article  Google Scholar 

  12. Early, D. M., Iruka, I. U., Ritchie, S., Barbarin, O. A., Winn, D. C., Crawford, G. M., et al. (2010). How do pre-kindergarteners spend their time? Gender, ethnicity, and income as predictors of experiences in pre-kindergarten classrooms. Early Childhood Research Quarterly,25(2), 177–193.

    Article  Google Scholar 

  13. Fishman, B. J., Marx, R. W., Best, S., & Tal, R. T. (2003). Linking teacher and student learning to improve professional development in systemic reform. Teaching and Teacher Education,19(6), 643–658.

    Article  Google Scholar 

  14. Garet, M. S., Porter, A. C., Desimone, L., Birman, B. F., & Yoon, K. S. (2001). What makes professional development effective? Results from a national sample of teachers. American Educational Research Journal,38(4), 915–945.

    Article  Google Scholar 

  15. Geist, E. (2015). Math anxiety and the “math gap”: How attitudes toward mathematics disadvantages students as early as preschool. Education,135(3), 328.

    Google Scholar 

  16. Ginsburg, H. P., Lee, J. S., & Boyd, J. S. (2008). Mathematics education for young children: What it is and how to promote it. Social Policy Report,22, 1.

    Article  Google Scholar 

  17. Gropen, J., Kook, J. F., Hoisington, C., & Clark-Chiarelli, N. (2017). Foundations of science literacy: Efficacy of a preschool professional development program in science on classroom instruction, teachers’ pedagogical content knowledge, and children’s observations and predictions. Early Education and Development,28(5), 607–631. https://doi.org/10.1080/10409289.2017.1279527.

    Article  Google Scholar 

  18. Hachey, A. C. (2013a). The early childhood mathematics education revolution. Early Education & Development,24(4), 419–430.

    Article  Google Scholar 

  19. Hachey, A. C. (2013b). Teachers’ beliefs count: Teacher beliefs and practice in early childhood mathematics education (ECME). NHSA Dialog,16(3), 77.

    Google Scholar 

  20. Ingvarson, L., Meiers, M., & Beavis, A. (2005). Factors affecting the impact of professional development programs on teachers’ knowledge, practice, student outcomes & efficacy. Education Policy Analysis Archives,13(10), 1–28.

    Google Scholar 

  21. Isner, T., Tout, K., Zaslow, M., Soli, M., Quinn, K., Rothenberg, L., et al. (2011). Coaching in early care and education programs and quality rating and improvement systems (QRIS): Identifying promising features. Washington, DC: Child Trends.

    Google Scholar 

  22. Kamii, C. (1982). Number in preschool and kindergarten: Educational implications of Piaget’s theory. Washington, DC: National Association for the Education of Young Children.

    Google Scholar 

  23. Kinzie, M. B., Whittaker, J. V., McGuire, P., Lee, Y., & Kilday, C. (2015). Research on curricular development for pre-kindergarten mathematics and science. Teachers College Record,117(7), 1–40.

    Google Scholar 

  24. Kyzar, K. B., Chiu, C., Kemp, P., Aldersey, H. M., Turnbull, A. P., & Lindeman, D. P. (2014). Feasibility of an online professional development program for early intervention practitioners. Infants and Young Children,27(2), 174–191.

    Article  Google Scholar 

  25. McGuire, P. R., Kinzie, M., Thunder, K., & Berry, R. (2016). Methods of analysis and overall mathematics teaching quality in at-risk prekindergarten classrooms. Early Education and Development,27(1), 89–109.

    Article  Google Scholar 

  26. Miller, R. G., Curwen, M. S., White-Smith, K. A., & Calfee, R. C. (2015). Cultivating primary students’ scientific thinking through sustained teacher professional development. Early Childhood Education Journal,43(4), 317–326.

    Article  Google Scholar 

  27. National Association for the Education of Young Children (NAEYC)/National Council of Teachers of Mathematics (NCTM). (2010). Early childhood mathematics: Promoting good beginnings (policy statement). Washington, DC: National Association for the Education of Young Children.

    Google Scholar 

  28. Nilsson, P. (2015). Catching the moments: Co-teaching to stimulate science in the preschool context. Asia-Pacific Journal of Teacher Education, 43(4), 296–308. https://doi.org/10.1080/1359866X.2015.1060292.

    Article  Google Scholar 

  29. Olsen, H., Donaldson, A. J., & Hudson, S. D. (2010). Online professional development: Choices for early childhood educators. Dimensions of Early Childhood,38(1), 12–17.

    Google Scholar 

  30. Pianta, R. C., Mashburn, A. J., Downer, J. T., Hamre, B. K., & Justice, L. (2008). Effects of web-mediated professional development resources on teacher–child interactions in pre-kindergarten classrooms. Early Childhood Research Quarterly,23(4), 431–451. https://doi.org/10.1016/j.ecresq.2008.02.001.

    Article  Google Scholar 

  31. Piasta, S. B., Logan, J. A. R., Pelatti, C. Y., Capps, J. L., & Petrill, S. A. (2015). Professional development for early childhood educators: Efforts to improve math and science learning opportunities in early childhood classrooms. Journal of Educational Psychology,107(2), 407–422. https://doi.org/10.1037/a0037621.

    Article  Google Scholar 

  32. Powell, D. R., Diamond, K. E., Burchinal, M. R., & Koehler, M. J. (2010). Effects of an early literacy professional development intervention on head start teachers and children. Journal of Educational Psychology,102(2), 299–312.

    Article  Google Scholar 

  33. Rittle-Johnson, B. (2017). Developing mathematics knowledge. Child Development Perspectives,11(3), 184–190.

    Article  Google Scholar 

  34. Sheridan, S. M., Edwards, C. P., Marvin, C. A., & Knoche, L. L. (2009). Professional development in early childhood programs: Process issues and research needs. Early education and development,20(3), 377–401. https://doi.org/10.1080/10409280802582795.

    Article  Google Scholar 

  35. Stone-MacDonald, A., & Douglass, A. (2015). Introducing online training in an early childhood professional development system: Lessons learned in one state. Early Childhood Education Journal,43, 241–248.

    Article  Google Scholar 

  36. Takunyaci, M., & Takunyaci, M. (2014). Preschool teachers’ mathematics teaching efficacy belief. Procedia Social and Behavioral Sciences,152, 673–678. https://doi.org/10.1016/j.sbspro.2014.09.261.

    Article  Google Scholar 

  37. Weigel, D. J., Weiser, D. A., Bales, D. W., & Moyses, K. J. (2009). Identifying online preferences and needs of early childhood professionals. Early Childhood Research and Practice,14(2), 1–16.

    Google Scholar 

  38. Whitaker, S., Kinzie, M., Kraft-Sayre, M. E., Mashburn, A., & Pianta, R. C. (2007). Use and evaluation of web-based professional development services across participant levels of support. Early Childhood Education Journal,34(6), 379–386. https://doi.org/10.1007/s10643-006-0142-7.

    Article  Google Scholar 

  39. Whittaker, J. V., Kinzie, M. B., Williford, A., & DeCoster, J. (2016). Effects of MyTeachingPartner—math/science on teacher–child interactions in prekindergarten classrooms. Early Education and Development,27(1), 110–127. https://doi.org/10.1080/10409289.2015.1047711.

    Article  Google Scholar 

  40. Zaslow, M., Tout, K., Halle, T., Vick Whittaker, J., & Lavelle, B. (2010). Emerging research on early childhood professional development. In S. B. Neuman & M. L. Kamil (Eds.), Preparing teachers for the early childhood classroom. Baltimore, MD: Brookes Publishing.

    Google Scholar 

Download references

Funding

Funding was provided by CME Group Foundation.

Author information

Affiliations

Authors

Corresponding author

Correspondence to Kathleen M. Sheridan.

Additional information

Publisher's Note

Springer Nature remains neutral with regard to jurisdictional claims in published maps and institutional affiliations.

Rights and permissions

Reprints and Permissions

About this article

Verify currency and authenticity via CrossMark

Cite this article

Sheridan, K.M., Banzer, D., Pradzinski, A. et al. Early Math Professional Development: Meeting the Challenge Through Online Learning. Early Childhood Educ J 48, 223–231 (2020). https://doi.org/10.1007/s10643-019-00992-y

Download citation

Keywords

  • Early math
  • Early childhood professional development
  • Early childhood professional learning
  • Online professional development
  • Barriers to professional learning