Maths in the Early Years
Maths is all around us and used throughout many of our daily activities, which is why it’s important to support babies and children in their learning development, so they have the skills to carry out everyday tasks as they grow. We use maths for the simplest of tasks such as telling the time and judging distance as we drive, so we need to set out ways to help our children develop these mathematical skills through fun and engaging activities.
Mathematics teaches us about numbers, counting, patterns, measurements, estimations, shapes and spaces. It also teaches us how to solve problems and recognise themes and patterns to help foster the development of memory. This is why it’s so important to encourage children to experience maths and make it fun, without frustrating them with activities beyond their development.
Maths for Babies
From as young as five months, babies become aware of quantity and notice changes in amounts of objects (up to three objects only). This is a good time to play hiding games with them as they will search for the missing object, find it and restore it to the original number in their vision. They also recognise patterns early in life such as those in music and rhymes, or knowing that when the door opens, and they come out of their cot, they are about to be fed.
Babies also recognise familiar faces, and this helps develop their understanding of space, learning distance and direction when they reach out for things in their environment. Through different experiences such as lifting and moving objects and filling and emptying containers, they will develop a basic understanding of capacity and measurements in their day-to-day lives.
Maths for Over Two’s
As your child develops, they will be able to use language to display their knowledge of maths, using words such as more, same and different. Three-year olds can subitize objects (subitising refers to immediately knowing how many items lie within a visual scene for a small number of items) up to four, they can count to five, then ten and can use one-to-one correspondence. At the age of four, they can count to higher numbers, understand numerals represent numbers and are aware of significant numbers such as their age and door number.
Between three and four children to start to recognise and discuss patterns, as they experiment with patterns of colour, position and shape. By the time they are four, children can complete simple patterns and copy them.
At the age of two or three, children are able to recognise shapes like circles and squares and are able to move them to match another or do a jig saw. From four to five, they can recognise a range of shapes and are starting to recognise the properties of shapes and create more complex structures.
Throughout the development of your child, you need to consider what stage they’re at and what steps need to be taken next. There are many activities you can carry out at home, and discussing these with your child’s nursery will allow for a collaborative approach to promoting their development.