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Welcome to the international Children's Mathematics Network

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Emergent learners

     All young children are emergent learners, at home, in nursery

school and in school.

      The word emergent expresses that “the child’s understanding is gradually developing, and is being produced through interactions within a culture”, their understandings and knowledge expanding through activity" (Gillen, 2003, p. 19).

      Young learners explore ideas, theorising about aspects of their worlds and making sense of their experiences. It is difficult for children to do this if they are always told what to do and how to do it, and open situations including play can provide rich contexts for children's ' dynamic and complex' understandings to emerge (see Wood & Hedges, 2016). We would argue that what are sometimes referred to as 'misconceptions' or 'errors' in mathematics are really showing evidence of children's growing knowledge. It is vital that adults respect and value children's emergent understandings


   Gillen, (2003). The Language of Children. Routledge.  


   Wood, E.,  & Hedges H (2016). Curriculum in Early Childhood Education: asking critical questions about content, coherence and control. The Curriculum Journal 27(3): 387–405.