From 1st September 2021, the statutory framework for the EYFS (2021) states that educational programmes must involve activities and experiences for children, as set out under each of the areas of learning.
Developing a strong grounding in number is essential so that all children develop the necessary building blocks to excel mathematically. Children should be able to count confidently, develop a deep understanding of the numbers to 10, the relationships between them and the patterns within those numbers. By providing frequent and varied opportunities to build and apply this understanding - such as using manipulatives, including small pebbles and tens frames for organising counting - children will develop a secure base of knowledge and vocabulary from which mastery of mathematics is built. In addition, it is important that the curriculum includes rich opportunities for children to develop their spatial reasoning skills across all areas of mathematics including shape, space and measures. It is important that children develop positive attitudes and interests in mathematics, look for patterns and relationships, spot connections, ‘have a go’, talk to adults and peers about what they notice and not be afraid to make mistakes.
It is important that all children are given opportunities to enjoy learning about and exploring Mathematics. It is also important that adults recognise that mathematical learning is not limited to a particular aspect of provision but can happen everywhere.
Effective teaching in the EYFS involves helping children to identify opportunities when they can apply their mathematical knowledge and their thinking skills to become real-life problem solvers. When children think mathematically and have the vocabulary to explain their thinking, they can make connections across all other areas of learning.
Mathematics in the EYFS includes both numbers and shape, space and measure.
Young children begin to make the link between numerals and quantity, counting and knowing how many items are in a group and learning how to use simple calculation skills in practical, real-life situations. Opportunities to explore, practise and build on mathematical learning should be provided outside and inside, in all areas of provision, in child and adult initiated activity, at song time, story time and snack time – all the time.
The most valuable resources for mathematical learning are the adults who share children’s excitement as they learn. A knowledgeable practitioner creates exciting opportunities for children to practise their skills, offering suggestions and ideas to extend their thinking and broaden and deepen their understanding.
Shape, space and measure
As young children try to make sense of the world around them, they make links and connections between what they see in their environment and their past experience. Through this process, they begin to notice and understand the properties of shapes, for example knowing that a ball will roll.
Children also become aware of variations in size and space and they begin to apply this knowledge to negotiate space, solve problems and understand more about the world. They also begin to notice patterns and this helps them to develop skills in sequencing, ordering and time.
When given appropriate support, their vocabulary will reflect their growing knowledge and will enable them to express their ideas and thoughts.