However, some strands of mathematics might

indicate different intelligences. For example,

geometry could be more related to visual-spatial

than to logico-mathematical ability. Counting and

recalling the names for specific number symbols

could be more related to linguistic intelligence.

Children can be motivated to learn mathematics

through their strength in another intelligence.

Some children may engage in learning to count

through music, chants, or ball bouncing activities.

Others may more easily learn about geometry and

spatial orientation through bodily kinesthetic

activities. For the socially-motivated, learning

mathematics through games and dramatic play

may be most engaging. Some may learn to explore

mathematical concepts and symbols through

literature and/or technology. To motivate children

to learn mathematics, educators must take into

account all of these child-centered possibilities.

Several educator-related factors also contribute

to the child’s disposition to learn mathematics.

Educators who are effective mathematics

educators communicate the enjoyment of

learning mathematics, and have fun with

mathematical challenges and discussions. They

value errors as essential information that help

them learn more.13 These educators:

• help children understand the purpose of

learning math;

• set realistic and interesting challenges

related to mathematics;

• provide children with open-ended activities

that allow them to apply their understanding

at an appropriate developmental level;

• create math-rich classroom environments;

• talk with children about their mathematical

discoveries and ideas; and

• help children learn to evaluate their responses.

Educators need a clear understanding of how

children come to know and understand mathematics

in the early years. Documents such as *First Steps®*

a vehicle for learning “that provides opportunities

for learning in a context in which children are at

their most receptive”.7

This attention to disposition, natural curiosity,

and receptivity for learning that is so evident in

play-based learning, is at the heart of effective

early education. Lilian Katz identified four

interrelated types of learning that co-exist in any

learning situation: knowledge, skill, feelings, and

dispositions.8 Disposition is the ‘habits of mind’

that become internalized. This quality is particularly

relevant to solving problems in mathematics.

Dr. Douglas Clements identifies the disposition

or habit of mind important for mathematics

learning as: curiosity, willingness to persevere,

imagination, willingness to experiment, and

sensitivity to patterns which are all part of quality

early childhood programs.9 Interest, rather than

cognitive ability, has been shown to be the best

predictor of ability, along with more challenging

comprehension tasks such as those associated

with mathematical problem solving.10

Many factors are associated with creating

interest and motivation for learning, including

novelty, saliency, prior knowledge, and emotions

relative to a particular task, as well as natural

ability or inclination.11 With respect to the latter,

Howard Gardner’s multiple intelligence theories

would suggest that children with strong logico-

mathematical intelligence would have more

natural ability and likely more positive attitudes

and intrinsic motivation toward mathematical

learning than other children, (just as some

children are more naturally inclined toward

language/literacy, music, bodily kinesthetic

tasks, etc.)12

The most effective motivators

are relevance and novelty, supported by the

confidence of successfully completing challenges

that are closely matched to children’s current

level of understanding and skill.