This blog shares insights from a paper recently produced for USAID - Towards the Design and Implementation of Comprehensive Primary Grade Literacy and Numeracy Programs. The paper describes the foundational skills young children need to develop in each subject area to be successful at higher grades – those that are subject-specific as well as those common to both subject areas.
Helping teachers understand both the specificities of effective mathematics and reading teaching, as well as the commonalities of effective instruction in both subject areas, is an important aspect of comprehensive reading and mathematics programs, particularly if the same teachers are responsible for teaching both subjects.
Some of the recommendations with respect to the design and delivery of programs that have a dual focus on mathematics and reading, extrapolated from the lessons learned from a decade of research into effective early grade reading interventions in low and middle-income countries, include the following:
- Train teachers on both effective mathematics and reading instruction in the early grades, as well as the connections between the two. Interventions should be explicit about the ways the two content areas are the same and different, and efforts should be made to connect the two areas.
- Provide teachers with a scope and sequence for each subject that acknowledges and respects the progression in developmental learning. This means identifying the key skills children need to develop at each grade level and sequencing them appropriately.
- Provide teachers with instructional materials aligned with the scope and sequence, and that model the specificities and commonalities of effective instruction in the two disciplines.
- Allocate sufficient time for instruction in each subject area. Reading and mathematics should not be taught in the same time block. Rather, there should be a dedicated time of the day for reading instruction, and a separate time of the day for mathematics instruction. The amount of time allocated to each subject area should be sufficient to ensure improved learning outcomes, provided that effective instructional practices and materials are used.