Nursery Management

Maths in the EYFS – How to develop your provision

  • Maths in the EYFS – How to develop your provision

NDNA’s lead early years adviser, Jo Baranek, explains why, and how, we should be championing maths in the EYFS…

Q: Why is maths in the EYFS important?

A: Maths is an important part of the EYFS Framework, and an essential life skill for children. As well as developing numeracy, it supports skills such as problem solving, understanding and using shapes and measure. It also improves children’s spacial awareness.

It also helps them to recognise, create and describe patterns, which is essential for early problem-solving skills.

In short, introducing maths to children from an early age helps to develop their understanding of all elements of maths, problem-solving and reasoning in a broad range of contexts.

We need to be able to provide opportunities for children to practise their developing skills and knowledge. This is so they improve their competence and confidence in using them.

Q: What does a nursery need to provide to help children learn maths through play?

A: To give children the best opportunities to learn and develop mathematical skills, we should pay particular attention to four familiar themes:

  • a unique child
  • positive relationships
  • enabling environments
  • learning and development

All children can be successful with maths in the EYFS. This is provided we give them the opportunities to understand it in a way that makes sense to them.

Using the Characteristics of Effective Learning to ensure children are engaged, motivated and thinking critically for themselves is vital. For example, encourage children to problem-solve by asking, “How many spoons do we need for everyone in this group to have one each? How many have we got? How many more do we need?”.

From birth, children have a keen interest in the world around them. However, to have the confidence to explore it they need support from adults around them.

Positive relationships help give children the confidence to discover and develop their mathematical skills. Enabling environments help children to discover maths in the EYFS thorough indoor and outdoor play.

Outdoors, children can spot shapes and numbers naturally. They can explore, investigate and build dens. This helps them discover shape, space and measure using equipment like boxes, crates and building blocks.

Indoors, we can integrate numbers and shape, space and measure into all activities and areas of learning. For example, use measure to mix paint. Cooking activities help children learn about quantities and measures.

Learning and development is about providing a range of activities and resources that support children’s individual needs. Focus on maths by looking at shape, space and measure with imaginative play. Develop an understanding of maths in the EYFS through stories, songs and games.

Q: What can practitioners do to help children develop their skills?

A: To help children develop their maths skills, we also need to have confidence in our own abilities.

NDNA worked with the DfE to promote maths in the EYFS through the Maths Champions project. The DfE recognises the importance of maths in building essential life skills. It wants to help practitioners be confident enough to develop children’s abilities in this area.

To this end, the project aims to ensure practitioners have the skills and resources to provide the best possible mathematical opportunities for children in their care.

The project works with EYTs to support staff in improving their skills. In turn, they can then help children learn about maths in the EYFS through play.

Free resources

We share free resources and ideas with online audit tools and activity resources. We highlight opportunities to develop maths through play. NDNA also offers support tools and online training to improve practitioners’ maths skills. It also provides opportunities for you to talk to others and share ideas and good practice.

But it is not just through the Maths Champions project that NDNA supports mathematical development. We also run online maths courses that help practitioners develop their skills and suggest ways to incorporate behaviours such as integrating schemas, and children’s individual needs and interests, into mathematical learning.

We also provide an understanding of the brain and cognitive development of a young child and how it relates to mathematical development. This helps develop the skills we need to support maths skills in very young children.

Finally, as well as learning practical ways to help children in nursery, it’s helpful for mathematical learning to be carried through at home. These courses also support you to understand the importance of this.

NDNA is the national charity and membership association for children’s nurseries across the UK. It supports settings across all sectors to deliver the best possible care and early learning for children whilst ensuring they are sustainable businesses.