New Grantee Report on Supporting Early Math Development for Dual Language Learners

With support from the Heising-Simons Foundation, Bellwether Education Partners has released a report identifying promising strategies to support early math learning for dual language learners (DLLs), both in the classroom and at home with their families.

Language Counts: Supporting Early Math Development for Dual Language Learners” points out that, “in order to improve equity in early math learning for all students, it is essential for this movement to understand and address the particular needs of [DLLs who] represent a large and growing percentage of preschoolers and elementary students in the United States.”

The report highlights an asset-based approach that views a child’s home culture and emerging bilingualism as strengths, rather than as deficits. It includes case studies of two organizations (Mighty Math, based in Chicago, Illinois; and Zeno Math, based in Seattle, Washington) that successfully support DLLs, their families, and early care providers to incorporate math talk into everyday learning activities.

Mighty Math, for example, encourages parent ambassadors to begin events with an invitation to share a nursery rhyme or song from their culture, followed by working together to identify the math in them, such as patterns or counting. Zeno Math begins its community engagements with listening sessions to learn from families and community members about their needs and their experiences with education. These and other strategies are summarized in a two-page document. The suggestion to partner with interested parents to share strategies with other families is especially relevant now, when families are looking to trusted sources for ideas to support their child’s at-home learning.

Bellwether’s report concludes with recommendations for how policymakers, advocates, education leaders, and others can support early math learning for DLLs.

We invite you to read the full report here.

The Heising-Simons Foundation’s Education program supported the creation of this report as part of its grantmaking to promote educational practices that encourage the retention of home language(s), as well as culturally-grounded math talk. The Foundation’s Education program believes that, if given these opportunities, DLLs––and by extension the communities in which they learn and grow––will reap academic, cultural, and economic benefits.

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