"Children’s Mathematics" emphasises the word children.
We are highlighting the mathematics that belongs to the children; they have ownership of their mathematics. It is the mathematics they think about and generate from their cultural worlds of home, family, community and school. The mathematics children notice in their everyday experiences is evident in their explorations and play, in their social interactions and the many ways in which they communicate. Young children’s own mathematics is not the conventional, standard mathematics of adults that is found in formal schooling, where the mathematics is planned from a curriculum or a set of curriculum goals. Instead, young children shape their mathematics, which can look informal. They use a variety of ways to make and communicate their mathematical meanings, their mathematical thinking, in contexts that can be understood as mathematical. These include actions, gestures, talk, models, drawings and other graphical signs. Young children are influenced by their social interactions and cultural knowledge as they think through their own mathematical ideas.
Adults value, support and extend children’s own thinking, bringing new mathematical understandings to children. They are pivotal in supporting children’s mathematics, encouraging children to lead by observing them and understanding children’s own mathematics. To understand children’s own mathematics, adults need to listen without prejudice, and follow the children’s agenda. Children’s mathematics underlines the rights of children to be listened to, to be heard.