Strategies for the implementation of mathematics in Grade R: Teachers? beliefs and practices

06 Jul 2017

Concerns have been expressed about the quality of teaching and learning in Grade R (reception) classrooms in South Africa. In mathematics, learning outcomes are said to be particularly limited, especially in poorer provinces of the country (Department of Performance, Monitoring and Evaluation [DPME] 2012). The study reported in this article explored the perceptions and beliefs on teaching mathematics in Grade R, compared with actual classroom practices, of selected teachers in a range of schools and Early Childhood Development Centres in the Eastern Cape. Sixteen teachers took part in focus group meetings, and outcomes were analysed according to Northcutt and McCoy?s ?Interactive Qualitative Analysis? method (2004). Themes emerging from analysis were used to construct interview questions and guide observations of Grade R mathematics teaching for nine selected teachers. Findings show that teachers from different contexts have similar perceptions and beliefs about teaching mathematics in grade R but that often their observed practices do not match how they perceive and value Grade R teaching. In the analysis of lesson videos, we identify a number of ?silent themes? revealing teachers? true actions, enabling us to comment on development and training needed to reach the goals of the intended mathematics curriculum for Grade R.