Young children’s embodied mathematical practices in and out of school context
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This dissertation, which is a video-ethnography study, includes three articles that contribute complementarily to the understanding of young children’s mathematical practices in and out of school. The dissertation starts with a rationale and a subjectivity statement and an overview of the three articles. Then, the first article, eliciting parental voices through multi-vocal video-cued interviews, shows parental insight about the processes of their four and five year old children engaging with mathematics out of school. The focus is parents’ particular interest in mathematics content ranging from number sense to data analysis, parents’ pedagogical ways of teaching mathematics, and parental concerns about contextual aspects of their children’s mathematics engagements. The second article reveals ways in which discipline is institutionalized within the contexts of schools, and how a school’s disciplinary mechanisms are infused in mathematical practices in a classroom of young children. As mathematics was enacted in multiple discourses, key scenes from the study show verbal and bodily rules inserted in mathematical curriculum times, and demonstrate ways in which mathematics becomes a disciplinary tool itself during the course of the day, with its authoritative and classificatory nature. Also evident are the ways in which all actors in a classroom draw on mathematics for problem solving in real life situations within a power/resistance dynamic. Embracing a multimodal perspective, the last article introduces data on young children’s embodied mathematical practices in the outdoor play area of a prekindergarten classroom. The findings from the third article help us to see that recognizing children’s spontaneous bodily techniques has potential to reshape researchers and educators’ agendas on what it means to engage in mathematical learning in early childhood education classrooms. The dissertation ends with an implications discussion, emphasizing the need for shaping formal mathematics education in early childhood education classrooms based on children’s embodied potentials that they bring to school and develop within the school. Also discussed are possibilities incorporating a consideration of families’ insights about children’s mathematics in and out of school into teachers’ and educators’ thinking about young children’s mathematics learning.