MAD Academy help children learn to count and recognise numbers to 10, to know early number patterns, colours, shapes and describe position and size
Click here to view the units in this Learning Element
This Learning Element is all about introducing children to the numerical concepts which they are already encountering in their everyday lives. It encompasses not just number and early calculation (e.g. adding or subtracting 1 or counting in 5s) but also concepts of position, size, shape and colour.
It may feel strange ‘teaching maths’ to such young children, but don’t be concerned. Even a very young baby is surround by number and numerical concepts every day and we naturally introduce ‘maths’ into our conversations with babies without even being conscious of it. Even the youngest baby books introduce colours, while parents naturally count with their babies without giving it a second thought. Whether it’s counting each foot when they put on a sock, or saying 1,2, 3 when bouncing a baby on their knee, or counting down from 5 before putting baby in the bath. Also they often use number based rhymes with their babies, such as 5 little pigs, or 1,2, 3, 4, 5 Once I Caught a Fish Alive.
So once a child gets to 18 months they are already aware of number, colour, shape, size, pattern, even if they don’t yet understand the rules and concepts associated with them. They are probably trying to count small numbers of objects, even if they get the numbers of wrong, showing conceptual understanding of the process of counting.
In this Learning Element we are starting to introduce children to simple numerical words and begin exploring the meaning behind them. At this stage it is as much about learning the vocabulary and sequence of number as it is about the concepts of number and for some young children that is as much as they are ready for. Just by teaching them the word patterns of number (e.g. saying 5, 4, 3, 2, 1) it will give them something solid upon which to build when they are ready later. Others will be ready to grasp numerical concepts and will begin to count up, understanding that the quantity is getting bigger, or to count down and understand that something is getting smaller.
Like everything with leaning, the more physical and fun you can make it, the more interested and instinctively the children will respond. The Learning Element alternates each term – with Discovering the World for Walkers to Two and with Phonics for Twos to Fours. Depending on the size of your class, you could start the unit activities each week by counting the number of children in the class today and encouraging the children to join in.
For parents who are nervous of maths themselves it is very easy for them to pass on this anxiety about numbers. Our approach is all about introducing numbers to children in a fun and natural way, just as they might learn about the weather or how to dress themselves – it’s just another aspect of everyday life, and you need to encourage your adults to see it in this way too.
For more detail on the way we support the development of numeracy within our classes, please see the background to each of the Numeracy activities given on their description pages.