There's more to maths than counting! We all use maths skills in our daily lives and finding opportunities for supporting young children with numbers, shapes, space and measures in your childcare setting is easy when you know how. Read on for our tips and ideas.
- Maths and the EYFS
- Best practice and activity ideas
- Working with dads, mums and carers
- Contact us
- Files available to download
Maths and the EYFS
Maths is one of the four specific areas within the Early Years Foundation Stage (EYFS). Each specific area is divided into Early Learning Goals, for maths these are:
- Numbers - children learn to count and the value of numbers, higher and lower. These skills support them to solve problems, use money and calculate more or less.
- Shape, Space and Measure - these skills support children to understand size, weight, capacity, position, distance, time and money and compare quantities, objects and solve problems.
Best practice and activity ideas
Children learn about maths through play and their daily experiences. And the more meaningful to them and hands on it is, the better.
Make sure your setting's environment (both indoors and out) is full of mathematical opportunities and has exciting things for children to explore, sort, compare, count, calculate and describe. Support them to be creative, critical thinkers, problem solvers and to have a go. For an idea of what children can understand and do at different ages, take a look at the What to expect, when? booklet.
Children love to help, so think about the mathematical learning opportunities in a daily routine like preparing the snack table:
- when halving or quartering fruit, ask the children to tell you how many pieces there are
- can they tell you whether the pieces are bigger or smaller than each other
- have a variety of foods, sort them onto plates and ask what's the same or different (for example look, feel and smell)
- measure capacity together when pouring drinks
- ask whether you have enough chairs or cups for everyone and if you need to take some away
- use a visual timetable to sequence the order of events and time.
Stories, rhymes and games
Stories, songs, rhymes and games that have a mathematical content help children understand number systems. Particularly if you give them time to talk, play and practice using numbers. Using your fingers or having objects that the children can see and touch will help too.
Babies learn about space, shape and size through mouthing, handling and exploring objects. Treasure baskets are a good way of providing opportunities for this.
Older children are more likely to understand mathematical concepts like position and size if they're able to use their body movements and senses to feel what it's like to be in, on or under something. Try our Physical development in the EYFS page for ideas.
Working with dads, mums and carers
To help parents to support their child's maths skills at home, why not share these free Count with me leaflets? They're full of easy little tips and are broken down into age groups from birth to five years old.
We offer all sorts of workshops around maths. Check your training programme to see what's available (it changes term to term).
If you'd like more advice or support, contact your early years sector improvement advisor, home-based childcare advisor or playwork advisor. If you're not sure who this is, get in touch with us at Surrey Early Years and Childcare Service by calling 01372 833833 or emailing firstname.lastname@example.org.
Files available to download
- Bubble play (161.6 KB)
Bubble play activity to support early maths skills
- Books that include maths (202.1 KB)
Maths through stories - a list of books that include maths
- The Blue Balloon (156.1 KB)
Maths activity ideas based on the book, The Blue Balloon, by Mick Inkpen
- Washing line.pdf (103.8 KB)
Maths activity ideas using a washing line