Teaching Your Child Maths in Their Early Years

Many families understand the importance of developing their child’s understanding of maths, but feeling confident in approaching this area of learning can be another challenge. In this article, we’ll provide you with the understanding to begin developing maths skills in your preschool-aged child.

What Is Maths Learning in Early Childhood?

In their preschool and kindergarten years, maths learning involves building basic number skills and developing foundational maths concepts. While many skills and concepts may seem simple, they set children up for successful academic performance as they move on to more complicated maths objectives when they’re older.

Early childhood education is a critical time for learning. From ages six months to six years, children develop many of the necessary number and language skills they will build upon as they move into primary school and beyond. If children miss out on these skills in preschool and childcare, it can set them back and cause them to struggle as they encounter more complicated concepts. Younger children’s brains are the most receptive to learning, so strong number skills will help them as they move forward in their educations and careers.

Maths learning can take on a variety of forms. Sometimes, it’s taught explicitly, as when you help your child learn to memorise numbers. They also pick up a lot of maths skills implicitly, such as when they see numbers in their environment or begin to count when playing. All forms of maths learning are valid and important. Children need explicit instruction to ensure that they’re learning accurate and necessary information. Implicit learning helps them understand how their new skills fit into the real world.

Educators guide children through maths lessons, activities, and concepts in the early childhood learning enviroment. The Educator may spend time introducing one-to-one counting. Children may then practice this skill using small counters. Finally, they may use the skill as part of a larger activity, such as adding ingredients to a recipe. Educators can set up guided maths activities where children can continue to practice new skills. Educators can make maths a part of free play by introducing materials and activities that develop maths skills in play areas.

Families can also help their children develop maths skills. You can explicitly teach your child to count, recognise numbers, and maybe perform basic addition. You can also foster maths learning by working it into everyday life. You may ask your child to count a particular item, such as street signs, when taking a walk.

Both Educators and families are responsible for helping children learn early maths concepts. Educators will be more likely to follow a set of standards to ensure that preschool children are on track for their age. Families can introduce maths skills where they see fit. You can make it fun by playing maths games and make it relevant by demonstrating authentic uses for maths skills in everyday life.

The Importance of Maths in Early Childhood

While early childhood should focus on play and exploration, there are specific skills that children need to develop so that they’re ready for kindergarten and primary school. Maths is one of the foundational skills that children should begin working on during this period. They’ll continue to build on these skills throughout their education.

It’s an Academic Skill and a Life Skill

Children will learn and use maths from the time they enter kindergarten right through university, and into everyday life as adults, and they’ll be constantly building on what they already know. When children have strong maths skills before entering primary school they’re more likely to excel in maths and other subjects.

Early Learning Can Develop Positive Attitudes

Many children can sometimes feel that maths is too difficult, and they may be afraid of making mistakes. When taught correctly in early education, children have the opportunity to grow confident in their maths abilities, increasing the likelihood they’ll enjoy it as they move through their educational journeys.

Children need to have positive feelings about a topic to learn it effectively. They’ll be much more likely to pay attention, learn new skills, and take the risks necessary to develop them. Maths learning should be fun during early education. Educators and families should be careful not to pressure children or give them tasks that are too frustrating.

Maths should feel like playing in the early years. Children don’t need to do a lot of worksheets or memorise flashcards. Instead, they can enjoy the opportunity to explore with manipulatives and play maths-related games. Maths should be a positive experience that kids look forward to.

Maths Skills Translate to Other Skills

Children will compare, sort, problem-solve, and more during maths activities, and they’ll eventually develop the ability to use these essential critical thinking skills in other areas of their life. While it’s important that you focus on the basics of maths in the early years, you could also try to challenge you child with some more abstract maths concepts. You could set up problems to solve and encourage children to engage in activities that go beyond counting, like modelling addition and subtraction.

Principles of Teaching Mathematics in Early Childhood

When teaching maths in early childhood, it’s important to remember that how children learn is just as important as what they learn. The principles of teaching maths in preschool will outline how younger kids need to learn and provide suggestions for creating meaningful learning opportunities.

Maths Teaching Should Begin During Early Childhood

Try not to shy away from maths education just because children are young. Children can begin learning basic maths during their toddler years. When taught correctly, they can develop number sense and maths concepts that will serve them well in primary school and beyond.

Children can explore mathematical concepts through toys, games, and music during their earliest years. Sorting random items and those that promote shape recognition and spatial awareness all help children develop maths skills.

Children Should Explore, Not Memorise

Children need to develop a deep and fundamental understanding of numbers as early as possible. Younger kids should be provided with ample opportunities to explore and play with numbers. They generally don’t need to worry about memorisation at this age.

You can foster number sense and theory by offering your child spaces to explore. Let them play with counters and blocks, and explore the different patterns and numbers associated with them. You could encourage measurement activities where they measure with their hands, blocks, or objects. Help and guide them to begin practicing to model addition and subtraction so they can see how numbers fit together. These tasks are fun and encourage critical thinking.

Activities Should Be Hands-On

Maths learning can often take the form of worksheets. While worksheets have a place in maths, younger children need more hands-on learning experiences to feel engaged and empowered to participate. Hands-on experiences are much more meaningful for children of all ages, especially younger children. When they can touch something, they’ll be much more likely to remember it than if they only see it.

Provide your child with a variety of manipulatives to explore maths problems. Use different items for counters. Offer them physical solids to play with and let them make shapes out of different materials.

What Do Children Learn From Maths Activities?

While there is no limit to what younger children can learn from various maths activities, they should meet a few benchmarks. These benchmarks will ensure that they are prepared for primary school.

Numbers 1-10

There are several numeracy skills that younger children need to develop. They generally need to be able to count to ten (although many will be able to count higher by the age of five). They also need to understand one-to-one correspondence – the understanding that each number has a specific value and the ability to count with a sense of those values. Children should also be able to compare numbers 1-10, especially when using counters.

To practice counting and number recognition, children can sing songs and look for numbers in their everyday world. Try going on a number hunt with your child, looking for each of the numbers 1-10 in your environment. For one-to-one correspondence, they need plenty of opportunities to count and represent numbers with counters. You can give your child counters and ask them to use them to make groups of different numbers.


Preschool-aged children should be able to recognise the basic two-dimensional shapes – triangles, squares, rectangles, and circles. Some may be able to learn three-dimensional shapes like spheres, pyramids, and cubes.

It’s easy to teach shapes through hands-on activities. Let your child explore the number of sides and angles each shape has. Ask them to look for similarities and differences, and see if they can draw shapes on paper or with chalk. They can use shapes to create monsters or animals through their imagination.

Measurement and Data Collection

Younger children may not be ready to read measurements, but they can start exploring the concepts. They can develop a basic sense of length and volume. Provide them with the opportunity to use counters or blocks to start exploring the concepts of measurement. How many blocks fit together to equal the length of their arm? They can also use their hands and feet to practice measuring.

Children can collect data through surveying. They could ask each family member about their favourite ice cream. You can work with them to make a chart. They could also use a bag of counters to survey how many of each colour their friends and family can find.

Sorting and Classifying

The ability to sort and classify items by characteristic is a skill that translates well as children grow and develop through their educational journeys. Children can sort just about anything – toys, food, scraps of paper, family members, and anything else their imaginations can use. You can help them hone their sorting skills by giving them different attributes. Encourage them to sort by colour, order by size, and group by different characteristics.

Above all else, maths and all other subjects in early childhood education should be fun. The goal is to help children foster a love of learning, and they’ll achieve this best when playing and when they’re engaged in what they’re doing.