Learning to love maths in the early years

For many of us, learning or teaching maths can be intimidating. Parents and educators play a critical role in influencing a child's attitude towards maths in the early years. Children can develop negative attitudes about learning maths if their parents or teachers lack confidence in teaching maths or confer their own anxieties on children.

As teachers and parents grow more confident in teaching maths, children are more likely to enjoy maths as well.

Let's Count

The Smith Family's Let's Count program helps parents and early childhood educators build their capacity to teach maths, ultimately developing children's maths skills. It emphasises that opportunities for learning about maths are everywhere, especially in everyday experiences such as shopping, cooking and problem solving.

Children naturally love counting, making patterns and figuring out puzzles and with a bit of imagination, learning mathematical concepts can easily be tied into fun activities.

Let's Count is a free two-day training session for funded kindergarten programs. Let's Count will run again in 2017 and 2018. The Expression of Interest process will open again next year. For more information about this process or eligibility, see: Let's Count

Making maths part of everyday experiences in the early years helps children develop numeracy skills. These skills are strongly linked to academic success in later years.

As early childhood professionals, you've seen firsthand that children are more receptive to learning when it's through play rather than work, and the same applies to adults.

We've compiled ten everyday activities for you to share with the parents at your centre, to help them incorporate maths into their child's world.

10 everyday maths activities to make your child a maths master

  1. Green means go! – Ask your child to count the number of seconds between traffic light changes from red to green when you're stopped at an intersection.
  2. I spy with my little eye – When out and about, ask children to identify shapes in buildings and open spaces.
  3. Who's who in the zoo? – On your next zoo visit, encourage your child to identify the animals from biggest to smallest and longest to shortest.
  4. Grow and learn – Measure your child's height and encourage your child to calculate how much they've grown since they were last measured.
  5. Under the sea – At your next trip to the beach, ask your child to count any fish or shells they can see.
  6. We're going on a maths hunt – Create a scavenger hunt where children collect particular quantities and categories of items.
  7. Baking cakes – Teach your child about fractions by weighing and measuring ingredients together when baking a cake.
  8. Money, money, money – Encourage children to count coins in their piggybank while they are saving for something they want.
  9. Magnetic attraction – Ask children to arrange fridge magnets according to size or shape.
  10. Down the garden path – While in the garden, ask your child to count out the number of seedlings they can see and then measure the space between them with a ruler.

Subtracting negative attitudes and adding confidence in maths

Did you know?

  • One in four prep students living in Australia's most disadvantaged communities does not have the numeracy skills needed for school.
  • Children's early knowledge of maths is a strong indicator of success in maths and achievement into high school.