ERIC Number: ED436232
Record Type: Non-Journal
Publication Date: 1998
Geometric and Spatial Thinking in Young Children.
Clements, Douglas H.
Although geometry and spatial reasoning are important as a way to interpret and reflect on the physical environment and also form the foundation for learning mathematics and other subjects, many early childhood and primary school teachers spend little time instructing their students in these areas. This paper examines how young children learn about space and geometry, discusses how they think about specific concepts in this area, and presents activities and teaching approaches that early childhood educators can use to help them develop. Section 1 of the paper examines how children learn about space and geometry and begins with an examination of Piaget's belief that children have constructed "perceptual space" by infancy but develop ideas about space through action; this is followed by a discussion of children's exploration of shapes by touch, drawing of shapes, and the development of perspective taking. This section also describes levels of geometric thinking--from a holistic, unanalyzed visual beginning through description to an analysis of geometric figures--and discusses the important role of education in this development. Section 2 discusses how children of different ages think about salient mathematical concepts: shape, spatial orientation, and spatial visualization and imagery. Section 3 presents suggestions for instructing young children, including use of manipulatives and pictures, computer manipulatives, and the Agam program to develop the visual language of young children. The paper concludes by noting that it is essential that geometry and spatial sense receive greater attention in instruction and research. (Contains approximately 60 references and 11 figures). (KB)
Descriptors: Age Differences, Child Development, Cognitive Development, Concept Formation, Developmental Stages, Early Childhood Education, Educational Practices, Geometry, Imagery, Map Skills, Mathematical Concepts, Mathematics Education, Mathematics Instruction, Piagetian Theory, Primary Education, Spatial Ability, Theory Practice Relationship, Visualization, Young Children
Publication Type: Opinion Papers
Education Level: N/A
Sponsor: National Science Foundation, Arlington, VA.
Authoring Institution: N/A