The ArAl project is part of the theoretical framework called early algebra, an area of research in mathematics education which promotes the teaching of arithmetic in an algebraic perspective since the early years of primary school, or even in kindergarten.
It claims that the main cognitive obstacles take place in the field of pre-algebra, and that many of them arise in arithmetic contexts, in unexpected ways and often pose, later, insurmountable conceptual obstacles to the development of algebraic thinking. In fact students cannot have a conceptual basis for building their own algebraic knowledge, if they are not aware of arithmetic procedures and of the way they arise.
Unlike the traditional teaching of mathematics, where students meet algebra at the end of middle school, early algebra aims to demonstrate that it is possible and effective to approach algebraic thought much sooner and that this would help pupils build a solid foundation for understanding the meaning of algebraic objects and processes.
Pre-algebraic thinking means therefore the development of a mental attitude that favour the approach to generalizing and modelling enhancing awareness on processes and on their objectification through reflection on similarities and differences.
B. Teaching Units (Pitagora Editrice Bologna)