When planning to implement Maths into an Early Years setting, practitioners need to reflect in ways which children learn. For information to sink in and allow the child to really have that ‘WOW’ moment we cannot just put numbers in front of them and ask them to recall or count to 10. Not only is this boring and not something a child would want to necessary do, but the child more than likely will forget within a few hours.
The best way in through PLAY! Seize the moment they are interested make it fun, bring excitement. It is very important for parents/careers to understand that your children are not ‘just’ playing, they are learning through everything they do, exploring how something might work, problem solving within their play.
As practitioners, when we are planning for Maths, we need to ensure this is through active learning as children are playing and exploring, and that as children grow, the experiences we provide support them to develop their own ideas. Maths must be implemented through planned, purposeful play and a mix of adult-led and child-initiated activity. The challenge is to provide a simulating environment for our youngest children, which supports their continuing development as confident Mathematicians. For example, at Little Owls we have scales always available to the children in the environment. The children can weight items around them, explore how the scales might move, why something might be heavier than the other. This is something the child themselves can learn at their own pace on their terms.
Make the most of everyday routines to talk about the quantity of children who are in the room, playing in the sand, listening to the story. Talk about how many slices of apple or roast potatoes there are on the plate at lunchtime, or wheeled toys in the shed. Children also can actively explore and experience shape, space and position as part of everyday play. They need lots of opportunities to move themselves and to manipulate objects. They can find out what it is like being under, over or behind things as they crawl beneath tables, climb on boxes, hide behind blankets and jump off logs.
By including Mathematical talk within play, providing interesting recourses within the environment and giving children opportunities to explore and play with number rhymes and songs will all support children with Maths, giving them to best start to develop their mathematical understanding later on.