Aistear, the early childhood curriculum framework, celebrates early childhood as a time of wellbeing and enjoyment where children learn from experiences as they unfold. Children’s interests and play should be the source of their first mathematical experiences. These experiences can become mathematical as they are represented and explored. Young children represent their ideas by talking, but also through models and graphics. From the motoric and sing-song beginnings of rhymes and geometric patterns built from unit blocks stem the gradual generalisation and abstraction of patterns throughout the child’s day.
The mathematics curriculum at primary school aims to provide children with a language and a system through which to analyse, describe, illustrate and explain a wide range of experiences, make predictions, and solve problems. Mathematics education seeks to enable learners to think and communicate quantitatively and spatially, solve problems, recognise situations where mathematics can be applied, and use appropriate technology to support such applications. The junior cycle mathematics specification consolidates and develops students’ learning from primary school and as such experience of the learning outcomes in the Primary School Mathematics Curriculum is assumed.
The junior cycle mathematics specification is developed to align with Leaving Certificate Mathematics to allow for the effective transfer of knowledge, understanding, and skills from junior to senior cycle. While certain aspects of the strands have been adapted to specifically suit junior cycle—for example, having four rather than five strands—it is nonetheless clear from the structure of this specification how students’ learning in junior cycle mathematics should be developed in senior cycle. A good understanding of the knowledge and skills outlined in this specification will lay the foundations for successful engagement with senior cycle mathematics.