The STEP Strategies

Starting Early with High-Quality Mathematics Instruction

Kindergarten is the perfect time for young students to learn about mathematics, and early exposure to this domain is critical. To help children gain the critical math skills they need, exposure to more math instruction is just the first step. Teachers need guidance and support to teach mathematics effectively in preschool, both during group instruction and within children's play. In addition, the STEP learning and coaching process connects the importance of young children's executive function skills in the role of math learning.

Through our online learning and coaching process, STEP provides teachers with foundational and targeted strategies to use in the classroom - strategies that are evidence-based and known to improve early mathematics and EF learning across five domains of early math: Numeracy, operations, geometry and spatial sense, patterning, and measurement. In combination, these strategies don't just help teachers convey mathematics concepts more effectively. They also promote learning that prompts young learners to explore, explain their thinking, and build their own understanding of mathematics and its role in the world.

The STEP Model for Math Instruction - Targeted and Foundational Strategies

Targeted Strategies

Targeted strategies are explicit ways to teach children different math skills. They not only help students learn concepts accurately, but effectively move young learners from one level of understanding to the next, so their math abilities keep growing.

Targeted strategies aren't just designed for teacher instruction - they're strategies young students can eventually use on their own to tackle math problems they encounter. For example, a teacher working on counting apples with a young student may at first model how to keep track of the number of objects. But over time, the goal is for students to feel comfortable using that strategy on their own.

Teacher Helping Student Count Apples

Foundational Strategies

Foundational strategies are interactions and instructional practices that support children’s development across all of the math areas. Used in combination with our targeted strategies, they promote math learning at a deep level. Four foundational strategies provide the basis for STEP instruction:

  • Modeling and using math language
  • Asking children open-ended questions that elicit their solution-methods
  • Supporting conceptual understanding
  • Extending mathematical thinking

These four strategies were derived from an early math observational measure called the COEMET.

Teacher and Boy Working on Shapes