Pre-school children discerning numbers and letters

Mona Holmqvist, Charlotte Tullgren

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    Research on learning has shown the importance of the learner‟s possibilities to discern what differs as well as what is similar when meeting new phenomena. But how does this kind of understanding develop when young children try to understand their environment in natural settings? The results of Tolchinsky‟s research (2003) about young children‟s understanding of numbers and letters before being taught are considered in this study. Tolchinsky‟s results showed that children can separate cards that can be read from those which can not be read. Even more, the results showed that children did not separate cards with numbers in the same way. In this study the point of departure is variation theory, and Tolchinsky‟s results are seen through the perspective of what children do discern, what they discern simultaneously and what kind of variation they seem to need to discern. The aim of this study is to describe in what ways pre-school children seem to discern letters and numbers, what kind of similarities they discern among these phenomena and what kind of variations of the targeted phenomena they are aware of. Three children, aged 4, 5 and 6, have been interviewed when sorting cards with letters/words and numbers. The cards offered have been prepared to include some similarities and some differences, which enable the child to sort in many different ways. As Tolchinsky has found, the children rejected the card that only included letters that could not form a word; they could differentiate cards with numbers from those with letters/words, and no cards including numbers were rejected. In this study we also found how children used chain-complex when talking about the relations between the cards in terms of similarities and differences. Symbols such as the decimal point and minus sign were not commented on at all by the children and had no influence on their sorting.

    TidskriftForum on Public Policy A Journal of the Oxford Round Table
    StatusPublicerad - 2009

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    • Pedagogik (50301)


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