I hope you enjoy reading the fifth installment of our information about the Early Years ‘Areas of Learning’. We have looked at all Prime areas and the first specific area of learning which is ‘Literacy’. Now we will look at “Mathematics”(maths), which is an important part of learning for all children in the early years and receiving a good foundation is an essential life skill. In addition to numeracy, it helps develop skills such as, understanding and using shapes, measuring and developing their own spatial awareness, as well as problem solving skills. It helps them to recognise, create and describe patterns, which is a key part of problem solving in the early years.
Introducing maths to children from an early age helps to develop their understanding of all elements of problem solving and reasoning in a wide variety of activities. In Foundation, we aim to provide opportunities for children to practise their skills and knowledge so they improve their competence and confidence in using them independently and in different contexts.
All children can be successful with maths. The key to success is to ensure children are engaged, motivated and thinking critically, some of the Characteristics of Effective Learning (CoEL), which are a vital element of the Foundation Stage learning experience, which is about how they learn rather than what. Encouraging children to problem solve involves asking questions such as: ‘How many plates do we need for everyone in this group to have one each? How many do we have? How many more do we need? Do we have enough?’.
From birth, children have a keen interest in the world around them, but to have the confidence to explore it, they need the support from adults around them. As with all our learning and experiences in the Early Years our relationships with children are key to helping them have the confidence to discover and develop skills and this is where, you the parents can make a real difference in using maths at home by: counting steps or toys (amongst other things like, jumping); looking for different shapes around the house, building things together; talking about what comes next; where things are in the cupboard or on the table; looking for patterns, making colour patterns, looking at number plates; the list is endless, but talking is vital to share discuss and ask questions.
Outdoors, children can find shapes and numbers naturally, they explore and investigate and build dens which give them the opportunity to explore shape, space and measure using equipment like boxes, crates and building blocks. Indoors, numbers and shape, space and measure can be integrated into all activities and areas of learning e.g. using measure to mix ingredients to make play dough, which is a particular favourite that encompasses a multitude of skills and knowledge from pouring, to measuring, reading recipes, sharing, mixing, recognising numbers and adjusting because ‘it doesn’t look right’.
As with Literacy, children need to build their skills in Mathematics to get the most from the opportunities they are given. In order to do this the children need to ENJOY learning and have FUN!!! Our Foundation Two children are also able to enjoy online activities through www.mathletics.co.uk. They also have access to other online websites which include fun games that build confidence and learning such as www.topmarkmaths.co.uk.
A reminder that Foundation Two has a special dress up day on Thursday 13 December for our learning about ‘People who help us’. All of the children are encouraged to come in dressed as someone who helps us: a doctor; firefighter; police; dentist; teacher; builder to name just a few suggestions.
We also have a Story time on Thursday for Foundation Two from 13:00 to 13:40 for parents to come in and share books. The children really enjoy sharing books and we look forward to seeing you then.