Early learners in China start learning math at a very young age. The classrooms are equipped with concrete material for teaching math. The purpose of math education in China is to develop practical and theoretical knowledge through rigid practice. The Chinese believe that repetition and practice are the most efficient ways to learn math and the same is reflected in their mastery approach.
The mastery approach is prevalent in Singapore, China, and Shanghai. In the mastery approach, learners follow a rigidly linear progression to study math concepts before progressing to complex concepts. Learners aren’t split into separate groups based on their academic abilities. Rather, they all do the same work simultaneously before mastering and progressing to the next topic together.
In the mastery approach, the lessons are much shorter with around half an hour of lesson-time and 15-minutes of play-time afterward. Emphasis is given on recitation and repetition which ensures understanding as well as embedding. Studies have proved that the mastery approach of learning math also helps in improving the speed with which children learn math.
In China, math curriculum is a 9-year program separated into 4 stages. Math is considered as more than just a numbers game. The many dimensions of math including but not limited to – number sense, geometry, measurement, language, spatial relations etc. are all learned by exploration.
At the end of the day:
Researchers have established that young learners are, innately, curious about math. There’s a strong indication that math becomes real to preschoolers as they make use of it during playing, talking, analyzing and doing. This early exploration of math when supplemented with the mastery approach helps young learners in building math skills, expanding their knowledge and making sense of their world.