Alignment and mismatches between Grade R educators’ views of their own practices and curriculum expectations in mathematics education: A reality check

Faith Nomathemba Tlou, George N. Shava


Mathematics learner performance that seems to scar the South African education needs more attention and more detail in how classroom practice occurs. This paper aims to make a reality check of the currently obtaining situation regarding alignment or misalignment of practice and curriculum expectations. Data was obtained from fourteen Grade R classrooms taped and captured from a bigger project in the Eastern Cape. A series of four taped lessons per class were selected by the Grade R educators themselves which they evaluated to indicate their own practices using an adapted COEMET tool by Clements and Sarama to assess the quality of their teaching. A thematic analysis approach is employed in analyzing the captured lessons and interviews. The findings  of this paper reveals that educators view some of their practices in terms  fostering cognitive development, use of large and small groups, use of play in mediating learning and skill focused activities as well as their roles in initiating activities as being very much aligned to the Mathematics curriculum expectations. However there are some of their practices they view as a mismatch of the Mathematics curriculum expectations with regards to assessment of social, emotional and self-regulation skills, educator centred teaching and use of age inappropriate activities. The insights of the study make it imperative to invest in professional development for Grade R educators and are important in identifying the alignments, the gaps, and the mismatches that exist in the sector.


Alignment, Eeducator practices mismatch, Professional development.

Full Text:



Atmore E. van Niekerk L. and Ashley-Cooper M. 2012. Challenges facing the early childhood development sector in South Africa. South African Journal of Childhood Education, 2 (1): 120-139.

Bedrova, J.E., Leong, D.J. (2007) Tools of the mind: The Vygoskian approach to early education. Upper Saddle River, N.J. Pearson Education.

Berkman, E.T., Graham, A. M., Fisher, P.A. (2012) Training Self-Control. A Domain-General Translational Neuroscience Approach. Child Development Perspectives.6 (4) 374-384.

Blair, C. & Diamond, A.(2008) Biological processes in prevention & intervention :The promotion of self-regulation as a means of preventing school failure . Development & Psychopathology 20(3) 899-911.

Clements D.H. Sarama J.H. and Liu X.H. (2008). Development of a measure of early mathematics achievement using the Rasch model. The research based Early Maths assessment. Educational Psychology, 28(4) 457-482.

Clements D.H. Sarama J.H. (2012) Math in the Early Years - University of years.pdf

DBE (2008) ECD Service Guidelines of 2006, Pretoria: Department of Basic Education.

DBE (2014) National ECD Policy 2014 Pretoria: Department of Basic Education.

DBE (2008) Norms and Standards for Grade Rof 2008. Pretoria: Department of Basic Education

DBE (2001) Education White Paper 5of 2001,Pretoria:Department of Basic Education.

DBE (2011) CAPS, Mathematics available:

Department of Education (DoE). (2001a). Education White Paper 5: Meeting the Challenge of Early Childhood Development in South Africa. Government Printer, Pretoria:

Department of Social Development, (DoSD) & UNICEF (2010). Tracking Public Expenditure and Assessing Service Quality in Early Childhood Development in South Africa.

Diamond, A., & Lee. K. (2011) Interventions shown to aid executive function development in children 4-12 year r old. Science 333, 958-964.

Durlak, J. A., Weissberg, R. P., Dymnicki, A. B., Taylor, R. D., & Schellinger, K. B. (2011). The impact of enhancing students’ social and emotional learning: A meta-analysis of school-based universal interventions. Child Development, 82(1), 405–432.

EFA Global Monitoring Report (2005) THE QUALITY IMPERATIVE. UNESCO Publishing.

Evertson C. M., & Weinstein, C. (2006). Classroom management as a field of inquiry. In C. M. Evertson & C. Weinstein (Eds.), Handbook of Classroom Management: Research, practice, and contemporary issues (pp. 3-15). Mahwah, NJ: Lawrence Erlbaum Associates, Inc.

Feza N. 2012. Can we afford to wait any longer? Pre-children are ready to learn mathematics. South African Journal of Childhood Education, 2 (2) 58-73.

Feza, N. (2013) Inequities and lack of professionalization of early childhood development & practice hinder opportunities of mathematics stimulation and realization of South African policy on quality education for all. International Journal of Inclusive Education. Available retrieved 5 February 2016.

Flook, K., Goldberg, S.B., Pinger, L., Davidson, R.J.(2014) Promoting prosocial Behaviour & Self-Regulatory Skills in Preschool Children Through Mindfulness Based Kindness Curriculum, Development Psychology51(1) 44-51.

Ginsburg, K. R., (2006) Mathematical Play & Playful Mathematics. A Guide for Early

Graven, M(2015). In Beswick, K., Muir, T., & Wells, J. (Eds) Proceedings of 3th Psychology of Mathematics Education Conference, Vol 1 p163.Hobart, Australia: PME, 1-163 Strengthening math Learning Dispositions.

Graven, M., & Heyd-Metzuyamin (2014) Exploring the Limitations and Possibilities of Researching Mathematical Dispositions of low literacy levels .Scientia in Educatione 5(1) 20-35.

Hattie, J. (2009). Visible learning: A synthesis of over 800 meta-analyses relating to achievement. New York, NY: Routledge.

Heckman, J. (2014)Grade R Education: Getting the Basics Right. Briefing Paper 343.Southern African Bishops Conference, Parliamentary Liaison Office.

Heyd-Metzuyanim, E & Graven M (2015) Between people-pleasing and mathematizing: South African learners’ struggle for numeracy Metzuyanim,%20Graven%20-%202015%20-%20BetweenCached

Hungi, N., Makuwa, D., Ross, K., Saito, M., Dolata, S., van Capelle, F., et al. (2010). SACMEQ III Project Results: Pupil Achievement Levels in Reading and Mathematics. Paris: Southern and Eastern Africa Consortium for Monitoring Educational Quality.

Kilpatrick, J., Swafford, J., & Findell (2001) Adding it up: Helping children learn mathematics. National Academy Press: Washington D.C.

Korpershoek, H., Harms, T., de Boer, H., van Kuijk, M.& Doolaard, S.( 2014) Effective classroom management strategies and classroom management programs for educational practice: A meta-analysis of the effects of classroom management strategies and classroom management programs on students’ academic, behavioural, emotional, and motivational outcomes. Available GIONonderwijis/onderzoek

Mashburn, A. J., Pianta, R. C., Hamre, B. K., Downer, J.T., Barbarin, O., Bryant, D., Burchinal, M., Early, D.,& Howes, C. (2008). Pre-k program standards and children’s development of academic, language, and social skills. Child Development, 79 , 732–749.

Miller, E., Almon, J. (2009) Crisis in the Kindergarten: Why Children Need to Play in School. College Park, Maryland. Alliance of Childhood

Milteer, R. M., Ginsburg, K.R.(2012)The Importance of Play in Promoting healthy child Development &Maintaining strong Parent-Child bond :Focus on children in poverty. Available

Moffit.T.E.,Arseneault,L.,Belsky,D.,Dickson,N.,Hancox,R.J.,Harrington,H.,Caspi. A. (2011) A gradient of childhood self-regulation control predicts health, wealth, and public safety. Proceedings of National Academy of Sciences of the United States of America (PNAS) 108, 2693-2698.

Moilanen, K. L., Shaw, D.S., Dishion, T.J., Gardner, F & Wilson, M( 2010) Longitudinal growth and predictors of inhibitory control in early childhood, Social Development media.326-347.

Muraven, M. (2010) Building Self –Control Strength: Practising Self Control Leads to Improved Self Control Experience. Journal of experimental Social Psychology 46, 465- 468.

Newton, E. & Jenvey, V. (2011). Play and theory of mind: associations with social competence in young children, Early Child Development and Care, 181(6), 761-773.

New Jersey Department of Education (NJDE), 2014 Pre-school Teaching and Learning Expectations: Standards of Quality. Available:

Oliver, R. M., Wehby, J. H., & Reschly, D .J. (2011)Teacher classroom practices: Effects on disruptive or aggressive student behavior. Campbell Systematic Reviews 4 (1- 55).

Oliver, R. M., & Reschly, D. J. (2007) Effective Classroom Management : Teacher Preparation and Professional Development. National Comprehensive Center for Teacher Quality. Washington D.C.

Orbele, E., Schornert-Reichl, K.A.(2013) Relations among peer acceptance, Inhibitory Control and Math Achievement in Early Adolescence, Journal of Applied Developmental Psychology 34,45- 51.

Pianta, R. C., Barnett, W.S., Burchnal, M., Thornburg, K.R. (2009) The Effects of Preschool Education: What we know, How Public Policy is or is not aligned with the Evidence Base, What we need to know. Psychological Science in the Public Interest 10(2) 49-88.

Posner, N., Rothbart, M.K. (2007) Educating the human brain. Washington. D.C. American Psychological Association.

Rees, R.A., Galvin, P (2009) Facilitating Emotional Self regulation in Preschool Children Efficacy in the Early Heartsmarts Program in Promoting Social Emotional& Cognitive Development. Heartsmarts: Boulder Creek.

Reddy, V., Prinsloo, C., Visser, M., Arends, F., Winnaar, L., Rogers, S., et al. (2012). Highlights from TIMSS 2011: The South African perspective. Pretoria: HSRC.,

Richter, L., Biersteker, L., Burns, J., Desmond, C., Feza, N., Harrison, D., Martin, P., Saloogees, H., (2012) Diagnostic Review of Early Childhood Development. Available retrieved 20 November 2015.

Robson, S. (2010) Self-Regulation & metacognition in young children’s self-initiated play and reflective dialogue, International Journal of Early Years Education 18 (3) 227-241.

Savina, E. (2014) Does play promote self-regulation in children? Early Child Development and Care 184:11, 1692-1705.

Slavin, R. E. (2014). Cooperative learning in elementary schools. Education 3-13, 1-10.

Spinrad, T.L., Eisnberg,N.,Cumberland,A.,Fabes,R.A.,Valiente,C.,Sherpherd,S.A., & Gutherie, K. (2006) Relation of emotion related regulation of children’s social competence :A longitudinal study Emotion 6,498-510.

Solomon, B. G., Klein, S. A., Hintze, J. M., Cressey, J. M., & Peller, S. L. (2012) A Meta-Analysis of School-Wide Positive Behavior Support: An Exploratory Study Using Single-Case Synthesis. Psychology in the schools 49 (2)105-121.

Whitebread, D., Coltman, P., Jameson, H., & Lauder, R. (2009). Play, cognition, and self-regulation: What exactly are children learning when they learn through play? Educational & Child Psychology, 26(2), 40–52.

Whitebread, D. (2010). Play, metacognition and self-regulation. In P. Broadhead, J. Howard and E. Wood (Eds.). Play and learning in the early years. London: Sage.


  • There are currently no refbacks.

Copyright (c) 2018 International Journal of Progressive Research in Education

Copyright © 2018 International Journal of Progressive Research in Education. All rights reserved.

ISSN: 2581-4974

For any query/support contact us at,,