Mathematics in the Early Years

As children explore in play, encountering patterns, working with and manipulating the natural world and solving problems, they apply mathematics concepts naturally. Children are born mathematicians!  

When they push and pull toys, stack blocks and fill and empty cups in water troughs and the sandpit, set tables, wait their turn and evaluate the ‘fair’ distribution of toys, resources and time, when they draw, compare, count and measure, whether formally or in terms they create themselves, they are playing with maths; and they’re usually having fun! 

All these activities allow young children to experience math concepts as they experiment with spatial awareness, measurement and problem solving.  

Open ended playful exploration encourages children to solve problems in real situations and because situations are meaningful to them, children gain deeper understanding of number, quantity, size, patterning, and space. As Maria Montessori said, “Play is the work of the child!”. Play based curriculum will teach your child mathematics concepts in a way that is far more likely to be retained than looking at number charts or through rote repetition. Educators are intentional in their choice and organisation of resources and experiences to make sure that children develop a love of maths as well as competence in formal processes. 

From clapping out beats to their favourite song and the morning Welcome to Country, to sorting loose parts into containers, patterning on pegs boards and through threading.  

In our 360 Beyond the Classroom program, children are learning further mathematical skills.  Experiences in natural outdoor environments increase neural activity and open meaningful opportunities for the development of spatial awareness and recognition of patterns as they occur in nature. Educators might provoke questioning, “How many people do we need to reach the whole way across this bridge?”, or “How many bugs can we count on that tree?”, “Who can find a spiral shaped leaf”, or “How many types of green can we find on our walk?”. Educators maintain their focus on the children’s unique lines of enquiry by constantly asking themselves, “What are the children wondering?”.      

Our educators provide children with maths tools such as scales, rulers, tape measures and geo boards so children can experiment with real world concepts.  For example, taking the scales into the outdoor playground and weighing the rocks and stones. Also, talking about same, different, heavy, light and introducing children the language of math along with the tools.     

As well as the freedom to use materials in authentic ways, children also need time and space to engage in maths. The educators structure the flow of the day to allow time for children to have uninterrupted play to discover and explore, experiment, and investigate math concepts in both intentional teaching and spontaneous experiences. Educators remain at hand to guide and provoke further learning. We support their learning by encouraging children to communicate their findings and sharing these with their peers.  

Young children need to see themselves as capable mathematicians. Our educators use documentation in a range of forms, through photos, drawings, work samples, transcripted conversation and educator observations to record the individual child’s learning journey and share this with children and families as it evolves. 

Children are natural mathematicians; and in a safe and supportive environment children will feel more comfortable taking risks and learning and developing confident skills around math.