How children learn about numbers and develop mathematical understanding during the pre-school years is vitally important and sets them on a path towards numeracy skills and confidence in later life. In the Early Years, math is incorporated into play through a variety of teaching strategies and resources. Play provides an important context for learning where children are able to explore ideas, solve problems, make connections and engage with others. Play-based learning plays a crucial role in the development of numeracy.
Numeracy is a form of communication, a way in which we represent and share information with others about our world. Because numeracy is an essential life skill, children need opportunities to use it, and to see it being used, in real life situations. Students in Reception 1 and 2 will be developing their numeracy and problem solving skills by learning to use number concepts and operations; by exploring and describing spatial relationships and shapes; by learning about comparisons and measurements; and by developing knowledge of patterns.
Recognising patterns, sorting and categorising objects, talking about time and the patterns of the day, measuring and calculating amounts, and arranging objects in space and identifying shapes are all examples of mathematical thinking that contribute to numeracy. These are the skills that teachers develop in the children. Materials and resources that allow children to problem-solve and explore the world mathematically are therefore key elements in the development of numeracy. Blocks and other construction materials, puzzles, and opportunities for patterning and sorting using found materials such as shells, seeds or leaves, all provide experiences that encourage mathematical thinking and the use of mathematical concepts and language.