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Learning without labels
by Unity Research School
Mathematics plays a key role in a child’s development. Very young children are naturally curious, noticing differences in quantity and the shape of objects, and use early mathematical concepts when they play. Mathematical understanding helps children make sense of the world around them, interpret situations, and solve problems in everyday life, whether that’s understanding time, sharing amounts with their peers, or counting in play.
Children display a wonderful, natural curiosity about the world and mathematics plays a key role in their development. In the introduction to the report, Professor Becky Francis states how developing mathematical understanding is crucial as it helps children make sense of the world around them, interpret situations and solve problems in everyday life.
One of the key messages that comes from this report is the importance of making everyday situations mathematical.
Recommendation 2 is for educators to dedicate time for children to learn mathematics and integrate mathematics throughout the day. Whether it be through storybooks, puzzles, songs, puppet play or games, educators who are able to identify meaningful opportunities for maths teaching and learning.
Teachers use storybooks that do not necessarily need to be mathematical, to teach mathematics and to provide an opportunity for mathematical talk and questioning. Mathsthroughstories.org is a fantastic resource of storybooks that can be used to teach different mathematical concepts.
Highlighting opportunities to explore maths and develop maths talk throughout the day, such as through daily routines like the register or sharing out the fruit. PE is identified as a particularly rich area for exploring number, shape and measure. One teacher explained how they exploited mathematical opportunities through recording scores and target setting in PE. In a subsequent lesson, the teacher supported the children to formalise this through a simple bar chart.
Supporting all staff to recognise and use these formal and informal opportunities to develop mathematical thinking and talk should be a key focus for all settings.
The guidance report identifies the importance of developing educators’ subject knowledge and understanding of how children learn to ensure that they are sufficiently prepared and able to work in this way. At Unity Research School, I’m privileged in my role to work with teachers and support staff to enable them to implement the recommendations and develop their practice accordingly.
Download the guidance report: Improving Maths in the Early Years and KS1
View the recommendations and other associated resources.
Learning without labels
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