Welcome to Developing Children's Algebraic Thinking Edit

Welcome! The purpose of this wiki is to shed some light on the importance of developing children's algebraic thinking at an early age. Please feel free to contribute, edit, or comment as you see necessary!

Algebra in the Elementary and Secondary Classroom Edit

Over the last few decades, the way algebra is taught and learned in the United States has undergone a major transformation. This transformation was prompted by years of research indicating that students were not adequately prepared in their elementary years for formal, secondary schooling in algebra. In their article, The Development of Children’s Algebraic Thinking: The Impact of a Comprehensive Early Algebra Intervention in Third Grade, Maria Blanton, Ana Stephens, Eric Knuth, Angela Murphy Gardiner, Isil Isler, and Jee-Seon Kim found that the more sophisticated algebraic reasoning that has typically been postponed until junior high or even high school is actually quite appropriate for elementary students. Their research indicates that elementary students have the capability to engage in advanced algebraic reasoning and that the traditional elementary mathematics curriculum falls short in preparing students for the transition from concrete to abstract algebraic thinking. These findings highlight the importance of early algebraic education. Although generalized arithmetic is an important facet to early algebra, it is critical for students to be exposed to early algebra in a more comprehensive approach. This type of approach integrates all content areas so that algebraic practices can occur across all subject areas. Blanton, Stephens, Knuth, Murphy Gardiner, Isler, and Kim concluded that continued documentation that algebraic reasoning in elementary school is possible and its positive effect on children’s algebraic readiness in their secondary schooling is critical in combating the traditional “arithmetic-then-algebra” approach that still lingers in our educo-political environment.


Blanton, M., Stephens, A., Knuth, E., Gardiner, A. M., Isler, I., & Kim, J. (2015). The development of children's algebraic thinking: The impact of a comprehensive early algebra intervention in third grade. Journal for Research in Mathematics Education, 46(1), 39-87. doi:10.5951/jresematheduc.46.1.0039

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