Making Math Happen in Linguistically Diverse Classrooms

  1. Preschool teachers may feel flooded with different demands.  Meeting the needs of ELLs is challenging so Math can get overlooked.  Here are tips for making Math easy  and effective for ELLs – every single day.
  2. Most important with ELLs:   use real items for math activities as often as possible.  They are easier to recognize and more likely to connect with prior learning.
  3. The more diverse the classroom, the less effective will large group instruction be.  That’s great news for teachers who are intimidated by the prospect of planning big math lessons.  Instead, keep some math goals in your mind and find ways to address them casually with each child during the day.
  4. Take a step out of your usual context.  Visit another classroom and look for interesting opportunities to talk about math concepts in different areas.  As long as you know you are going to look for counting, comparing, putting things in series or groups, measuring, and noticing shapes – you will start seeing how math learning could easily happen in the art area, block area, outdoors, at the sand table, during mealtime – and in an unexpectedly primetime for math conversations:  cleanup and transition times!
  5. Use visuals.  Get used to talking about math whenever you have something to show or demonstrate along with your talk.
  6. Post reminders around the room, including translated key words in the languages you need to have informal math interactions with your ELLs whenever they show an interest.

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