1. What do children learn in maths during the Early Years Foundation Stage ages 3-5?

As stated in the revised EYFS, published March 2012, two particular aspects are focused upon, number and shape space & measures.

Numbers: children count reliably with numbers from 1 to 20, place them in order and say which number is one more or one less than a given number. Using quantities and objects, they add and subtract two single-digit numbers and count on or back to find the answer. They solve problems, including doubling, halving and sharing.

Shape, space and measures: children use everyday language to talk about size, weight, capacity, position, distance, time and money to compare quantities and objects and to solve problems. They recognise, create and describe patterns. They explore characteristics of everyday objects and shapes and use mathematical language to describe them.

2. Why do schools use manipulatives and physical objects to teach maths in the early years?

For many years now, the use of ‘manipulatives’ is widely accepted by UK/US educators as good practice. Being able to see, touch, sort, take apart and manipulate objects all helps children to ‘make sense’ of maths and make the links from the concrete to the abstract.

3. How do parents make a difference to their child’s maths development at home?

Parents are a child’s first teacher. They are usually strongly motivated to help their children, and can help in the following ways:

  • Engaging in valuable maths ‘talk’, through activities and by pointing out/doing things in daily life (shopping; cooking; counting).
  • Giving one-on-one time to develop their child’s maths understanding
  • Being able to instruct their child in small steps and build upon their child’s prior knowledge and skills.
  • Instilling a positive attitude towards maths

4. How does the HSC maths approach work and how do parents know what to do with the maths pack?

The parent guide - The maths resource pack comes with a comprehensive guide specifically written for parents wanting to support their child at home. The guide is written simply (avoiding teacher jargon) and explains to parents what children will need to learn over the two EYFS years in numeracy. The main part of the guide describes the various 10 min home activities. However there are other invaluable parent know-how sections of the guide. For example, parent-child interaction tips, how to provide feedback while children are learning, motivating, monitoring and rewarding children’s learning efforts.  The guide/s also contain useful appendices that assist with further home activities (it is important for parents to note that the physical resources that come with the guide are not the only teaching items supplied – quite a few are included within the guide itself).

Video Clips - Maths Videos can be accessed from the website, demonstrating how children learn maths in school and also at home. Videos show parents doing some of the key numeracy activities with their children at home (corresponding to the HSC maths guide).

The Website - The website offers parents further help to support children’s learning at home, such as counting picture book recommendations; links to free maths online games; useful curriculum information and other downloadables.

5. How long can I use the EYFS Maths Pack for? Why is there just one pack and not two separate packs e.g.  Nursery Maths and Reception Maths?

The EYFS Maths pack can be used for 2-3 years. The packs and guide are completely aligned to the EYFS curriculum and can be used throughout the two EYFS years, Nursery and Reception. Indeed, some parents will use the packs before their child is aged 3 in preparation for school and many children will use the extension material provided into Year 1.

The reason the pack has been packaged as one pack (instead of two, Nursery Maths and Reception Maths) is because the majority of resources can be used across both year groups. It would not have made financial sense for parents to have to buy the same resources again for the following year’s pack.

6. Can’t we get a lot of these maths resources free on the internet?

No. The internet is flooded with worksheets (more so for Year 1 onwards) and learning through worksheets is less appropriate, particularly for the 3-5 EYFS age group.

The home school connect resources are physical hands on resources that you can hold, feel, and manipulate (the same as is found in classrooms all over the country). Home School Connect believes that families can replicate the kind of learning that happens in school with some basic know-how on appropriate activities, talk and hands on resources. HSC has tried to save parents time, effort  and money by putting together a great selection of relevant materials for their child. Many parents feel overwhelmed by the education market and don’t know where to start! It is also fair to say that many of the maths items cannot be purchased individually or are not available on the high street. The EYFS maths pack is very unique as it has all the maths tools (and parent know-how) a child needs to learn maths in the home. Parents can finally feel confident that they are equipped to support their child’s maths learning at home in the way schools do in the classroom.

7. I’ve bought lots of  maths workbooks.  Do the packs offer something more?

Yes definitely. There are a couple of workbooks included in the packs. However, children learn best through multisensory learning and 90% if not more, needs to occur through talking, social interaction, exploring and doing.

Workbooks are less appropriate for this specific age group for that reason and although can form part of a child’s home learning diet, it should not be the main or only mode of learning. Besides, young children enjoy variety and can often find workbook learning (if done in isolation) boring or tedious.

The HSC packs offer a multi-sensory approach and the opportunity for learning to occur through dialogue, social interaction, having fun and play.

8. Should I sit down formally at a table with my child and “teach” them maths?

Do what works for your child. If they are happy to sit at a table to do activities with you, then great! Children vary in their abilities to concentrate and sit in one place.

Quite often children this young have short attention spans and benefit from ‘informal learning’ or ‘incidental learning’ (learning one thing while they are doing something else or learning in an unstructured/unplanned situation). Working/playing on the carpet or in the garden is just as good as sitting at a desk/table. Other young children like to move around while talking and learning with you. Many children are still ‘switched on’ and listening to you even if they are not sitting right next to you. Judge the situation and allow your child a little space and freedom if it doesn’t interfere with them engaging with you.

Many parents are pleasantly surprised just how willing their children are to work/play with them, once there are interesting activities and physical resources to use. Children generally respond well when they get positive attention from their family and have fun resources to play/learn with!

Also keeping the activities short,  offerring variety and short breaks helps to keep young children engaged – do this, and you can’t go wrong!

9. How frequently and for how long should I work with my child at home?

There is no upper limit. Every child and every family is unique,  therefore the frequency and duration of  home support can vary quite a bit depending upon each individual family’s circumstances and schedule. However, that said, HSC recommends a ‘little and often’ approach. Short 5- 10 minute activity sessions (twice a week or more) are generally more suitable for the nursery 3-4 age group and perhaps slightly longer for Reception aged children. Remember a lot of the learning occurs through play or exploring the resources in different ways, so your child won’t even feel like they are “working”.

10. How can I point out mistakes or correct my child sensitively, without upsetting him/her?

The main thing is to remain positive and minimize the amount of times you use the word ‘no’ or ‘that’s wrong’. Find other ways to verbalize that your child hasn’t quite got it yet. For example you could say “ Super effort! Lets try again” (and then solve together) or ask your child to explain how they got the answer they did. Sometimes remaining dispassionate about your child’s mistakes can be a hard thing to do, but with practice it is possible! In the guide there is an extremely useful section on how parents can use specific and positive feedback to maximise their child’s learning.

11. How can counting picture books help with maths?

Children learn in lots of different ways. Seeing numbers and quantity visually depicted within the context of a story is quite appealing for children as it helps them to make sense of numerals/counting in the real world (and also sometimes in a fun magical make-believe world too)!