This chapter addresses the possible forms of mathematical communication that might occur in the classroom for children between the ages of 4 and 8, and the role of play, language, and emotion in the child's learning. Rather than consider specifically mathematical communication, I focus on the nature of communication in general during this period. In order to better understand the child's situation at this time, the chapter examines the following areas:

1. The social setting of the child between ages of 4 and 8 2. Learning in early childhood 3. The nature of the home context 4. The nature of the school context 5. Collaborative learning and reading 6. Collaborative learning and mathematics

The context in which learning takes place is very different for the child aged 4 and for the child aged 8, so it is crucial to examine first what happens socially to children during this time. One of the more important steps for any child in this age range is going to school, whether at 5 as in England, or at 6 as in many European and other countries. Quite a few children will already have participated in various forms of schooling: play school, nursery, and so forth, usually for a

limited number of hours, but "going to school" at 5 or 6 is the beginning of compulsory education. Simplistically one could see the role of the home as being the major learning context prior to the age of 5 or 6, whereas with this transition this role gets shared between the two contexts, home and school. As Wells (1985) said, "they (children) move from the familiar and supportive environment of their home into the larger unknown world of school."