IDB Briefly Noted: No. 20 : September, 2012: The Making of Little Mathematicians: Fostering Early Math Understanding in Paraguay
That four- and five-year-olds can do algebra, arithmetic, and geometry may be hard to believe. But if you visit a preschool classroom in the Cordillera region of Paraguay, you will see children who learn factoring by organizing balls and sticks into groups, and who work together to form pentagons and hexagons with their bodies. These children are participating in a project called "Tikichuela, Mathematics in My School", the result of a partnership between the Japanese and Paraguayan governments, the Organization of Ibero-American States (OEI), and the Inter-American Development Bank (IDB). The idea behind the curriculum is that preschool children need to learn premath skills to build a foundation for primary- and secondary-level mathematics. Assessed after five months, the math skills of children in the program had increased significantly compared with those of a group of children not in the program. This brief describes the implementation of the pilot program and its qualitative and quantitative findings.