2013. Vol.4, No.7A1, 43-51
Published Online July 2013 in SciRes (http://www.scirp.org/journal/ce) http://dx.doi.org/10.4236/ce.2013.47A1006
Copyright © 2013 SciRes. 43
Teaching of Science and Mathematics in Pre-Schools of Botswana:
The Existing Practices
Kabita Bose1, Marea Tsamaase2, Grace Seetso3
1Department of Primary Education, University o f Botswana, Gaborone, Botswana
2Department of Family and Consumer Sciences, University of Botswana, Gaborone, Botswana
3Department of Primary Education, University o f Botswana, Gaborone, Botswana
Email: email@example.com, TSAMAASE@mopipi.ub.bw, Grace.Seetso@mopipi.ub.bw
Received April 18th, 2013; revised May 20th, 2013; accepted May 28th, 2013
Copyright © 2013 Kabita Bose et al. This is an open access article distributed under the Creative Commons At-
tribution License, which permits unrestricted use, distribution, and reproduction in any medium, provided the
original work is properly cited.
The study aims to examine the state of mathematics and science education in pre-schools of Botswana.
The study intended to find out the knowledge base of the teachers, the content and the process of activities
that were carried out in pre-schools, and also gauged availability and usage of resources in pre-schools,
while identifying the challenges faced and the strategies used to overcome by the teachers, in carrying out
Maths and Science activities. The study adopted both quantitative and qualitative approaches. The re-
search was done using survey questionnaire and observation techniques and was conducted in 26
pre-schools in Gaborone. The sample comprised of 64 teachers and 17 administrators who were identified
by using purposive sampling techniques. Quantitative data was also analysed using SPSS version 20, and
responses to Open-ended questions were analysed qualitatively. The findings showed that the trained
teachers although not in ECE, claimed to have some knowledge base of mathematics and science, and
identified pedagogy to be more important than content, for teaching science and mathematics at ECE.
They however, were of the view that ECE teacher training influences the knowledge base of the teachers,
and hence specialised training in ECE is necessary. The study also showed that mathematics activities
were predominant in the pre-schools as compared to science activities; the teachers frequently engaged in
mathematics and science activities outdoors; and the mathematics and science corners that were available
in most centres, were not utilised adequately. It further revealed that an equal number of the teachers, i.e.
almost half of them, faced challenges while teaching mathematics and science in pre-schools, as those
who did not. The study therefore recommended ECE teachers’ professional training on knowledge, peda-
gogy and content; and the menu to include more indoor and science activities.
Keywords: Early Childhood Education; Science and Mathematics Education; Pre-Schools; Botswana;
Science and Mathematics Knowledge
Children are active explorers of their environments, and learn,
as well as construct their own knowledge by doing and discov-
ering (Essa, 2011). Their understanding of scientific and mathe-
matical concepts grows during Early Childhood (EC). Through
exploration, process of inquiry and discovery, children get
stimulation and encouragement to form concepts and develop
thinking, classify information, opportunities to reason, solve
problems and make decisions, rather than memorizing isolated
scientific and mathematical concepts.
Children are curious and interested in exploring, which mo-
tivates them for learning. They can learn about emerging
mathematical and scientific concepts and can be encouraged to
develop scientific thinking. They learn all the time through play
and interaction with their surrounding environment, which can
form an important base for all teaching/learning process of
maths and science (Johansson & Pramling Samuelsson, 2006).
The creation of an early enthusiasm in Mathematics and Sci-
ence during this impressionable age, thus, must be laid, as the
roots of later competence which are often established long be-
fore their school age. It may even start in toddlers who can be
young explorers, as they use informal mathematical knowledge
developed before they enter school to organise their environ-
ment. In fact Mathematics in early childhood classrooms begins
with play and develops naturally as children interact with one
another (Moomaw, 2011).
Learning and teaching mathematical and science concepts
or/and ideas should form an integral part of daily life activities
in EC, and should be part of the core curriculum. Activities that
involve exploration and problem solving should be chosen as
they display higher gains in various domains. Activities that
help children focus their observation skills and provide classi-
fication experiences through exploration of number, length,
area, volume, weight, colour, function, shape, geometric fea-
tures, patterns, and texture should be chosen carefully. During
early years, children need hands-on materials to believe and see
it happen, as science is not intuitive (Gallenstein, 2004).
Science process skills may include the ability to ask ques-
tions, recognize relevant details, and use a combination of ob-
K. BOSE ET AL.
servation and inference to generate evidence-based explana-
tions. It should also be able to control variables, generate and
interpret evidence, formulate models, measure and communi-
cate ideas whilst clarifying meaning, classifying and predicting
and recognising causality. These skills should enable one un-
derstand ideas like uncertainty, probability, necessity, and suf-
ficiency, form and test a hypothesis, and should finally be able
to design experiments and revise hypotheses (Lehrer & Schau-
They can use certain tools that enable testing of various con-
cepts of living and non-living things. Counting, measuring,
locating and designing, playing and explaining and such other
activities should be made an integral part of children’s every-
day life, bearing in mind that they can have similarities between
different geographic and cultural groups, and yet, can be dis-
tinctive (Bishop, 1991).
Experiences of mathematical and science concepts that chil-
dren encounter in everyday life activities and interaction are
rich. In essence, children enter preschool with a range of con-
cepts gathered from informal experiences (Darling-Hammond,
2000). Hence educators need to discern and use them in teach-
ing/learning process. Careful choices of activities that incorpo-
rate children’s interests in the world around them, both in the
classroom and outside, can promote all domains of learning.
Early educators need to design the learning environment, that
gives children opportunities to develop fundamental values,
skills and understanding of different aspects, for example to
develop understanding of basic properties of numbers, weight,
etc. Nevertheless, availability of resources alone is inadequate
as quality instruction demands both relevant resources and time
to use those (Clement, 2001). Research shows that children do
not have enough exposure to Maths oriented activities, neither
at home nor at school (Moomaw, 2011).
Knowledge of pre-school curriculum and how to implement
the ideas in everyday activities are important for EC teachers
(Brenneman, 2011). They should have the knowledge of chil-
dren’s different ways of experiencing/learning/understanding,
and emphasis should be laid on didactic knowledge (what, why,
how, for whom, when) as well as the knowledge of context.
Essentially teachers’ content knowledge has a huge bearing on
the way they present content to learners (Kallery & Psillos,
2001). Furthermore, “teachers who have greater knowledge of
teaching and learning are more highly rated and are more effec-
tive with st udent s, especially at task s requi ring hig her or der think -
ing and problem solving” (Darling-Hammond, 2000: p. 167).
Teachers need to play an important role in planning, sup-
porting and guiding children to learn about maths and science
concepts through the use of various teaching strategies and
techniques such as asking open-ended questions of what/how/
why; modelling; giving feedback; and cognitive structuring, in
an environment that encourages learning through social rela-
tionships (Fu, 2010). Teaching strategies need to be, thus inno-
vative and ground-breaking, that not only warrants novelty, but
also facilitates early understanding and interest, and enables
mastery of concepts. The instructors also need to take chil-
dren’s prior knowledge into consideration in order to under-
stand children’s experiences and use that as a point of departure
(Glasserfeld, 1989; Resnick, 1987). The pedagogical orienta-
tion of Te Whaariki requires the teacher to share understand-
ings in the role of active participator with children. Smith,
Grima, Gaffney, and Powell (2000) in Garbett (2003) clarify
this role by saying that:
Teachers do not simply transmit knowledge to passively
receiving children, but they share meanings and under-
standings, and children take an active and inventive role
In addition, they need to use the state of the art multi-media
technology that could foster interest and curiosity, rather than
depending solely on traditional materials (Bers & Portsmore,
2005). For a quality EC programme, the caregivers need to
provide a developmentally appropriate context that progres-
sively increases in conceptual depth and complexity as children
advance through school and life (Lind, 1999; Bose, 2008).
It could thus be advocated that the existing practices in EC
Education (ECE) settings, with the right choice of activities,
strategies, and the application of developmentally appropriate
programmes would certainly ensure the promotion of scientific
thinking and mathematical skill development. Early childhood
practitioners are viewed as having a specialised body of knowl-
edge. This includes knowledge about children, teaching, learn-
ing and the curriculum that can be translated into meaningful
practice. In addition, the teacher must plan learning experiences
that engage and challenge children in thinking that is conceptu-
ally rich, coherently organised, and persistently knowledge
building. An effective early childhood teacher should be one
who can facilitate and extend children’s learning within the
holistic nature of the early childhood curriculum without being
overcome by the traditional notions of teaching (Edwards &
The question thus arises as What are the Existing Practices
in ECE Settings? In the curriculum area of science this is par-
ticularly difficult since teachers often do not have the requisite
background knowledge to integrate content and pedagogy on
Research has underscored the importance of developing and
nurturing mathematics and science skills at a tender age. What-
ever evidence is available is based largely on studies that are
carried out in developed countries, where ECE is comparatively
at an advanced stage, as compared to the developing ones. In
developing countries like Botswana, thus, a lot of scope is there,
which differ significantly, both economically and cultureally,
from that of a developed country. Hence this variance limits ge-
neralization of current literature on mathematics and science in
EC. The researchers, therefore, found it worthwhile to undertake
a study in Botswana, on the existing practices in pre-schools, as
it is often found that the pupils either deny opting for Maths
and/or Science subjects when they grow older, or do not fare
well if opted for it at all! They felt that such a study would pro-
vide empirical data so as to contribute to the existing body of
research regarding the teachers’ knowledge base and the chil-
dren’s engagement in mathematical and scientific experiences.
It was also felt by the researchers that such a study would
come at an opportune time, when the Ministry of Education and
Skills Development (MoE & SD) in Botswana was piloting the
first Pre-Primary Curriculum Framework that was developed as
a national guide; and the findings of the study would thus, con-
tribute to the development of a robust curriculum that could
ensure provision of developmentally appropriate experiences
for young children.
The aim of the research study was to examine the existing
Copyright © 2013 SciRes.
K. BOSE ET AL.
Copyright © 2013 SciRes. 45
practices in terms of mathematics and science education in
pre-schools of Botswana. sion 20. Responses to Open-ended question were categorized as
per themes and verbatim reports were used descriptively.
Results and Discussions Objectives
The research objectives of the study were to find out the:
1) Knowledge Base of the teachers in Mathematics and Sci-
ence subjects; The results show that 80% had formal teaching qualifications,
and possessed various credentials. Almost half of the popula-
tion (44%) was holding certificates, around 1/3rd (31%) was
holding diploma; and only 5% was holding undergraduate de-
grees. However, the concern is that only 14% of the trained
teachers received a formal training in ECE and possessed either
a certificate or a diploma in ECE. The majority was trained
either in Maths/Science or in other areas, but not in ECE (Fig-
2) Maths and Science activities carried out in pre-schools;
3) Availability of resources and their usage in pre-schools;
4) Challenges faced in carrying out Mathematics and Science
activities and the strategies used to overcome them.
A methodology is a set of methods and principles which are
used to carry out research (Wiersma & Jurs, 2005). For this
study, a survey research design is used since it enables data to
be collected from a fairly large sample that was scattered
throughout Botswana. The research design involved both quan-
titative as well as qualitative paradigms and a survey question-
naire was used to collect data as questionnaires are more easily
administered and are less expensive when compared to other
modes of collecting data. Observations also formed an impor-
tant part of the project. Purposive sampling technique was used
to identify respondents for the study. From a total of 80 ECE
centres, 1/3rd of ECD centres formed part of the study 64
pre-school teachers participated in the questionnaire from Ga-
borone, the capital of Botswana. The questionnaires were dis-
tributed to teachers and were self-administered, with the assis-
tance of a research assistant who also was trained for the task.
The completed questionnaires were then collected after one
week. Quantitative data was cleaned, coded, entered and ana-
lysed using SPSS (Statistical Package for Social Sciences) ver-
This reiterates the issue of untrained teachers teaching in pre-
schools, who lack knowledge of child development and various
developmental aspects of young children. An emphasis thus
needs to be laid on a specialised, professional teacher training
in ECE, both at pre-service as well as in-service levels, in order
to make a difference in teaching/learning process in ECE.
The study also shows that 13% were teachers with Standard
7, Junior Certificate and Form 2 to Form 5 (qualifications; and
most of the certific ate and diploma holders were below 45 year
olds (Figure 1). So the encouraging thing is that most of them
could perhaps be sent for an upgradation in their qualifications.
Knowledge Base in Maths/Science
In order to find out the existing practices, the researchers felt
the need to find out the knowledge base of the participants of
the study. So, the teachers were asked probing questions about
their preparations through teacher training programmes to teach
Maths/Science in ECE. The majority (84%) however felt that
Age and qualifications.
K. BOSE ET AL.
they had the knowledge of teaching mathematics and science to
children. Out of that, 75% said that the teacher training pro-
grammes prepared them in teaching of Maths and Science in
ECE as they had attended teacher training programmes or
workshops/short courses which trained them thoroughly (Fig-
On probing further, the respondents revealed that they had
attended various training programmes, workshops/short course s
like integrated courses for Nursery and Kindergarten, spe-
cialisation in Infant education, which trained them on child
psychology, learning in the early years, language development,
play-way method, curriculum development and instructions,
learning strategies, lessons planning, outcome based education,
Montessori method, life skills, numbering games, creative ac-
tivities, communication skills, sensorial education, exercises of
practical life, environmental science, pre-maths/pre-science,
geometry, arithmetic, number formation and numeracy, health
& nutrition, first aid, living together, production of teaching
aids, through discovery and simple experiments, etc.
A very small percentage (6%), however, did not feel that the
training prepared them in teaching of Maths/Science in ECE.
On asking them further, to identify the items that teacher edu-
cation programs could have included to equip them with the
essential skills, they failed and could not clearly spell them out.
In order to find out about the knowledge base of the teachers,
they further were asked about how easy or difficult it was to
gain knowledge about individual childrens’ experiences. Two
thirds of the respondents (65.62%) found it quite easy (14.06%
+ 51.56%) to gain knowledge about individual children’s ex-
periences (Figure 3).
The teachers were also asked the necessary things that ECE
teachers need to know, for teaching of mathematics and science.
Almost 85% rated Level of Students’ Understanding and Or-
ganising Teaching Concepts as most necessary for teachers to
know in teaching of Maths/Science to young children. Between
60% - 70% thought New Knowledge about the Concept, Clear
Knowledge of Teaching Process and Knowledge of What Chil-
dren Should Learn as necessary, whereas items like Factors
Affecting Teaching, What Students Need to Know, and Back-
ground of Students with respect to Context were seen necessary
roughly by 50%. Less than half of them (45%) saw the knowl-
edge of Difficulties/Limitation Connected with Teaching an
Idea as necessary for the teachers (Figure 3).
The results thus show that the teachers had some knowledge
base and gave a clear verdict of pedagogy being more important
that content, for teaching science and mathematics at ECE. But
the fact that the teachers thought, that gathering knowledge
about individual childrens’ experiences was easy, and yet were
unable to identify the items necessary for equipping ECE
teachers with skills, perhaps indicates that it was out of their
purview to outline them, and they need specialised training in
Maths and Science Activities Done in Pre-Schools
The next task was to find out about activities that were car-
ried out in ECE centres. Around 85% of respondents said that
they engaged in various activities to hone children’s mathe-
matical and science skills. On probing further, it was found that
majority (64%) did maths activities like number concepts, ex-
ploring numbers, counting numbers orally, writing numbers,
sorting, classifying, sequencing, matching, i denti fyin g, ordering,
addition, subtraction, sets, measuring, etc. This also shows that
the teachers generally limited young childrens’ ability in ge-
ometry and spatial relations, algebraic thinking and data analy-
sis (NIEER, 2009) which is paramount in young children.
It also surfaced that mathematics activities were predominant
as compared to science activities. Only 16% indicated that they
indulged in science related activities like seasons, weather,
mass, volume, sources of light, balancing, plantation, living &
non-living things, body parts, sounds, seed planting, use of
human senses, gardening, sand games, nature walks, activities
Knowledge of teachers’ understanding and training.
Copyright © 2013 SciRes.
K. BOSE ET AL.
Necessary knowledge for teachers.
related to hygiene, road safety etc. It also revealed that certain
pertinent activities like time and length were sparingly used in
pre-schools and very few engaged in experiments, explorations
and observations, field trips, nature walk and spontaneous
A conspicuous absence of songs/rhymes and water play for
teaching of mathematics and science in pre-schools was also
It was further revealed that (Figure 4) the majority of them
(84%) did the activities outdoors, and nothing much was done
inside the classrooms using the maths/science corners. Probably,
lack of training in ECE guided them to pick up the Mathematics
and Science activities like nature walk, visit to water sources,
see physical features, go for excursions, to take children outside
the classroom as suggested in the pre-primary curricular frame-
work (Republic of Botswana, 2008). But the brighter side was,
almost half of them (53%) did them every day.
To probe further, the teachers and the administrators were
also asked Why Science Activities are not done as much as the
Mathematics Activities in pre-schools, and the responses gath-
ered were as follows:
Math can be easily broken down;
It is easier to teach as compared to science;
Math related materials are easier to find;
Math activities are not demanding;
Science learning materials are difficult to find;
Background and concept of maths are formed from daily
Teachers think maths is more important than science;
Teachers regard science as difficult and a high order think-
Teachers incorporate science in maths;
Society pressurises teachers to teach maths rather than sci-
This shows that teachers need training, especially in teaching
science and in providing science related activities in a simpler
Availability of Resources and Their Usage
The researchers then tried find out the resources available in
an ECE centre for carrying out science and mathematics activi-
Copyright © 2013 SciRes. 47
K. BOSE ET AL.
ties. It was found that over half (58%) of the participants had
mathematics and science corner in their centres, while only
1/3rd (33%) indicated that they used the mathematics and sci-
ence corners on every day, and the rest used up to a maximum
of thrice a week only. Interestingly, a very small percentage
(9%) though, indicated that they did not have maths and science
corners but engaged children in mathematics and science ac-
tivities, almost thrice a week, probably by building up an in-
formal set up for doing activities indoors! Another 2% con-
fessed that they never used mathematics and science corner in
spite of having it in their centres, and another 3% disclosed that
they neither had such corners, nor engaged in any activities
(Figure 5) in their centres.
The findings thus prove that mostly Maths and Science ac-
tivities are done outdoors and hence, one tends to believe that
the teachers encounter with some difficulty in doing them in-
doors. Perhaps, the teachers do not use maths and science cor-
ner due to lack of required skills and competencies! They thus
Activities done outdoors.
Maths and science corners.
Copyright © 2013 SciRes.
K. BOSE ET AL.
need to be empowered with the ability to use them, whereas
those who do not have maths and science corner should be
provided by the school authorities.
Regarding materials available and their usage, the teachers
were asked questions. The above figure shows that the most
popular material was magnifiers and 98% used it. Other com-
monly used materials included puzzles (77%), building blocks
(73%), writing materials (53%), and bottles (52%). Materials
like themed books (44%) and sand water basin (44%) were
used, but less as compared to others, may be because they are
difficult to arrange and cumbersome to handle in the class-
rooms (Figure 6).
The results also show that inspite of a low interest in science
related activities, most of the preschools had magnifiers in the
classrooms. May be because magnifiers are easily accessible,
cost effective, durable, and entertaining in nature, or they might
have been recommended by the EC stakeholders? Other mate-
rials, on the other hand, that were necessary for science activi-
ties like prisms, weighing scales, balancing scales, magnets
were used in an extremely limited way, perhaps due to no in-
clination towards science activities in pre-schools.
For science teaching, very few engaged in experiments, ex-
plorations and observations, water and sand games, field trips,
nature walk and spontaneous outdoor play. A limited use of
songs/rhymes and water play for teaching of mathematics and
science in pre-schools was also revealed.
In the current study the class time-table, teachers’ plan books
lesson plans and syllabus were also studied and observations
were made in the ECE settings. It was however found that the
teachers hardly ever planned maths and science activities both
indoors as well as outdoors; the teachers’ plan book, time-ta-
ble/class routines also limited the scope of activities related to
maths and science. The materials required for science and ma-
thematics activities were also limited in the classroom, and did
not quite match with what the teachers indicated!
Challenges Faced and Strategies Used to Overc ome
One of the objectives was to find out the challenges and the
strategies that the teachers used to overcome the problems. The
results took a very interesting turn. It was found that although
the majority of teachers claimed to have the knowledge base,
48% of them faced challenges, while teaching Maths/Science in
pre-schools (Figure 7).
On probing further, it was revealed that the challenges were
Usage of materials in maths and science corners.
Challenges faced in maths and science teaching.
Copyright © 2013 SciRes. 49
K. BOSE ET AL.
regarding pedagogical aspects, which was indicated in the study,
earlier as well. This could thus be attributed to lack of special-
ised training in ECE. The results also showed that and another
48% of teachers did not face any challenges. But it was re-
vealed earlier that they mostly remained away from engaging
into science and indoor activities. The question thus arises as
what exactly happened?
What was the reason for lack of participation in certain ac-
tivities? Is it the training which failed them to do so, because
the study shows no dearth of indoor materials? Or it was simply
lack of guidance in pedagogical aspects.
The participants were further asked about the strategies that
they use in a bid to overcome the challenges, and it was found
that almost 39% of the respondents used various strategies like
varying teaching methods (18%), restructuring and repeating
concepts and activities (8%), using music and movement (6%),
introducing small and large group activities (3%), and empha-
sizing hands on approach (2%). Besides that, almost all of them
used circle time, peer teaching, grouped kids according to their
age and ability, performed exercises, introduced remedial les-
sons, used one to one communication, paid individual attention.
Some of the important strategies that enhance child centred
methods such as exploration, experimentation and manipula-
tion for example, did not surface in the examples given out
clearly by the teachers. This perhaps could be due to lack of
training of the pre-school teachers, who did not know the ways
of overcoming the challenges.
The teachers and administrators were further asked to iden-
tify the areas where teachers need help and the following re-
sponses were obtained:
Relate science to daily activities;
Create maths and science corners in classrooms;
Provide adequate resources;
Engagement in experimentations;
Sharing ideas with other stakeholders;
Empowerment of teachers;
Use real life objects;
Use varying method like observations, role playing, explor-
ing, investigat i ng;
Treat subjects with equal importance;
Let children have fun;
Rhyme and songs learning.
The above results show that teachers mainly need help in the
area of pedagogical knowledge as how to infuse the content and
deliver to the children in a most simplistic real life situation,
not so much in content areas. It also proves that ECE teachers
need empowerment to be able to carry out the daily life activi-
ties in the centres, and in turn teach the children the scientific
and mathematical concepts at ease. This support could be in the
form of some organised workshop, or some short courses or
some refreshers’ courses, which could empower them with
skills to work with the young ones in ECE centres. An idea of a
science centre where the children could be taught using varying
methods, very basic scientific and mathematical concepts in a
very simple and play way method could be well articulated at
this juncture. Such a science centre could even be used to train
ECE teachers on the usage of basic, real life activities to teach
science and mathematics concepts to young children. The
teachers could be equipped in a science centre with skills to use
experimentation, exploration, and investigative skills to teach
these concepts to young children.
The results also emphasise the importance of resources. Pro-
vision of mathematics and science corners with appropriate
materials could not be undermined. The school’s administra-
tions need to take note of such essential resources as today’s
child needs to gain a wide variety of knowledge and skills in
science and mathematics and this can not be achieved without
relevant materials, supporting curriculum coupled with teacher
competencie s a nd skills!
The results show that the issue of empowerment of ECE
teachers is most crucial in Botswana. Currently, most teachers
are not qualified or trained in ECE and they need specialised
training, and a provision needs to be made both for in-service
and pre-service training (Republic of Botswana, 2001). They
need to be empowered with teaching of mathematics and sci-
ence on an equal footing, so that they don’t emphasise on
mathematics alone. The ECE teachers need to be prepared to do
activities indoors, as well as outdoors as they are the catalysts
of the learning process and the success of education rests on
them (Republic of Botswana, 1994). Perhaps an emphasis on
comprehensive specialised training in ECE needs to be made
here. Just any teacher training programme cannot prepare them
to work with the young ones at various set ups. And a well
formulated curriculum is also unavoidable for providing guid-
ance to these teachers, which is currently not available in Bot-
The current study gives promising insights pertaining to
teaching of mathematics and science in Botswana preschools.
To be more specific, activities that develop children’s mathe-
matical competence are predominant in Botswana pre-schools,
as only a few teachers acknowledged infusing science concepts
in their daily curriculum. These teachers’ attempts are however,
thwarted by the fact that they have limited scope of knowledge
with regard to preschool science and hence children’s engage-
ment is restricted to fewer science related activities. It is with
no doubt that the current practice has a negative bearing on
children as science is equally an important school readiness
domain (Greenfield, Jirout, Dominguez, Greenberg, Mier, &
Ficillo, 2009). Nevertheless, it is apparent that very few of the
teachers are cognizant of various scientific concepts. Hence the
overarching questions that remain unanswered are why there is
lack of confidence in teaching of science at this level of educa-
It is prevalent that the majority of preschools have well pre-
pared mathematics and science corners within their classrooms,
but there is a disparity in their usage and the teachers are lim-
ited in scope and uncertain about their attempt to develop chil-
dren’s mathematics and science skills.
It is also revealed that Botswana preschool teachers generally
prefer to have mathematics and science activities in the out-
doors through play, perhaps, because the (Republic of Bot-
“Young children are active and curious; they need to ex-
plore, discover, ask questions, practice and rehearse in
order to build concepts and ideas from their experiences.
These activities, which form the building blocks to learn-
ing, are brought together during play” (p. 11).
The teacher thus needs to plan and provide as many opportu-
nities as possible for exploration, experimentation and discov-
ery, both indoors and outdoors. This calls for preschool teacher
Copyright © 2013 SciRes.
K. BOSE ET AL.
preparation and provision of a standard national ECE curricu-
ECE teachers need to be trained on teaching mathematics
and science as well appropriate use of material resources spe-
cific to these domains. Different initiatives like workshops, in-
service-training, can be put in place to address this identified
deficiency. In addition, a science centre established within the
University of Botswana can be quite useful for both pre-service
and in-service preschool teachers as they can have free and easy
access to the information and hands on practice each time they
Also, there is urgent need to review educator programs of-
fered in the country to establish the extent to which they pre-
pare teachers for teaching mathematics and science. It should
be noted that all the recommended options can make a differ-
ence in the current status quo and the government should also
expedite implementation of the national early childhood cur-
riculum. This will provide a yard stick for teaching mathemat-
ics and science in preschool.
The authors would like to acknowledge the Office of Re-
search and Developments (ORD), University of Botswana for
extending support and funding this study.
Barnett, D.W., VanDerHeyden, A. M., & Witt, J. C. (2007). Achieving
science-based practice through response to interv ention: What it might
look like in preschools. Journal of Educational & Psychological
Consultation, 17, 31-54.
Bers, M. U., & Portsmore, M. (2005). Teaching partnerships: Early child-
hood and engineering students teaching math and science through
robotics: ERIC-education resources information centre. New York:
Bishop, A. J. (1991). Mathematical enculturation: A cultural perspec-
tive on mathematics education. The Netherlands: Kluwer Academic
Bose, K. (2008). Early childhood care and education programmes in
Botswana: Policy (2001) implementation. Asia-Pacific Journal of
Research in early Childhood Education, 2, 3-23.
Clements, D. H. (2001) Mathematics in the preschool. Teaching Chil-
dren Mathematics, 7, 270-275.
Darling-Hammond, L. (2000). How teacher education matters. Journal
of Teacher Education, 51, 166-173.
Essa, E. L. (2011). Introduction to early childhood education. Belmont:
Fu, V. R. (2010). Learning and teaching in preschool.
Gallenstein, N. L. (2004). Creative discovery through classification
(early childhood corner). Teaching Children Mathematics, 11, 103-
Garbett, D. (2003). Science education in early childhood teacher educa-
tion: Putting forward a case to enhance student teachers’ confidence
and competence. Research in Science Education, 33, 467-481.
Glasserfeld, V. E. (1989). Cognition, construction of knowledge, and
teaching. Syntheses, 80, 121-140. doi:10.1007/BF00869951
Greenfield, D. B., Jiro ut, J., Dominguez, X., Green berg, A., Maier, M.,
& Fuccilo, J. (2009). Science in the preschool classroom: A program-
matic research agenda to improve science readiness. Early Education
and Development, 20, 238-264. doi:10.1080/10409280802595441
Johansson, E., & Pramling Samuelsson, I. (2006). Play and learning-
inseparable dimensions in preschool practice. Early Child Develop-
ment and Care, 176, 47-65. doi:10.1080/0300443042000302654
Kallery, M., & Psillos, D. (2001). Pre-school teachers’ content knowl-
edge in science: Understandings of elementary science concepts and
of issues raised by children’s questions. International Journal of
Early Years Education, 9 , 165-177.
Lehrer, R, & Schauble, L. (2006). Handbook of child psychology: Sci-
entific Thinking and Science Literacy. USA: J ohn Wiley & Sons, Inc.
Lind, K. K. (1999). Science in early childhood: Developing and ac-
quiring fundamental concepts and skills.
Moomaw, S. (2011). Teaching mathematics in early childhood. Balti-
more: Brookes Publishing Company.
Republic of Botswana (1994). Revised national policy on education.
Gaborone: Government Printers.
Republic of Botswana (2001). Early childhood care and education
policy on education. Gaborone: Government Printers.
Republic of Botswana (2008). Curriculum Development Division, Cur-
riculum Development and Evaluation Department: Ministry of Edu-
cation. Gaborone: Government Printers.
Resnick, L. B. (1987). Education and learning to think. Washington
DC: National Academy Press.
Wiersma, W., & Jurs, S. G. (2005). Research methods in education.
Witt, S. D., & Kimple, K. P. (2008). “How does your garden grow?”
Teaching preschool children about the environment. Early Child De-
velopment and Care, 178, 41-48. doi:10.1080/03004430600601156
Copyright © 2013 SciRes. 51