Math: Program Planning and Teaching with Intention

Program Planning and Teaching with Intention

Cindy Heaney, Executive Director

It is easy to think that teaching a child to count to ten by rote is math education. What we really want to know, though, is that a child understands numbers— that “3” has a specific “three-ness” that is constant. That understanding is a lot longer process and requires a great deal of exposure to mathematical ideas and plenty of time to play with them.

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At ITC, we take our constructivist roots seriously and perhaps never more so than when we address early math concepts with children. As constructivists, we see the teacher’s role as a master facilitator, orchestrating the environment—the classroom space, materials, routines and pace of the day— to support each child’s growing understanding of the world around him.

Children are not vessels to be filled with facts or knowledge: They are scientists, building a deep understanding of the world, one idea at a time.

ITC Math Curriculum

Our math curriculum reflects our constructivist approach from infancy through school-age, and you’ll be hearing more of those specifics as you read through Karen and Amy’s contributions and as you peruse the bulletin board in the main lobby. What I want to share with you today is how we work with teachers to continually expand our understanding of child development and how best to support early learning in the classroom.


Teachers meet weekly to discuss curriculum, review the ideas that are bubbling up in the group, and make plans to extend children’s thinking. Often these meetings reflect back on conversations that stem from a staff meeting training, an article or book we’ve read or a conference we’ve attended. This fall, many of the ideas teachers are playing with were inspired by our field trip to the Wonder of Learning exhibit at Wheelock College of Education at BU in August.

Wonder of Learning Exhibit Field Trip

The Wonder of Learning exhibit is traveling the United States from the schools of Reggio Emilia, Italy, and Boston was fortunate to be a host city this summer and fall. The Reggio Emilia schools specialize in deepening curriculum through intensively documenting long-term projects with children, so it was an obvious choice for us to visit the exhibit as a school and learn more about the power of observation and documentation as influences in our teaching.

September 2018 Staff Meeting


At our staff meeting in late September, Cathy, Moe and Tara from PSC led a rich teacher training that launched even more teacher reflection throughout all teams as they reviewed the beginnings of curriculum threads as they’ve gotten to know their new groups this fall. The teachers put their thinking through a developmental “sieve,” aligning their new ideas with their core understanding of young children’s developmental trajectories. This keeps our teaching fresh and innovative, while remaining grounded in solid theory and our ongoing study of human development.

Our conversations won’t end here, but instead will weave together with ongoing reflections as we continue the cycle of learning for children, teachers, and the entire learning