Maths in Reception


children using multi link blocks

At the beginning of Reception (P1 in Scotland), children can vary in age from just four to almost five. They have had different preschool experiences: some will have been to playgroup, some to nursery, some will have been looked after by a childminder, and some at home by parents or carers.

Teachers have to take this into account when planning games and activities.

The teacher and teaching assistants will provide a wide range of opportunities for children to develop independence and confidence as well as the ability to persevere and concentrate (essential requirements if children are to learn).

All this is done in an enjoyable way and includes role play, outdoor play, rhymes, stories and games, in a familiar and meaningful setting (for example, children are encouraged to set a table using the correct number of knives, forks and spoons).

There is an assistant in the classroom who works closely with the teacher. He/she will observe the children's involvement and learning, and report back to the teacher so that records can be kept of what the children know, understand and can do.

Children learn to count, sort, match and look for patterns. They also work with shapes, learn to do simple measuring and comparing and start to use mathematical language such as empty, full, longer, shorter, more than etc.

Children work as a whole class, in small groups, pairs and individually. They have number stories, such as Goldilocks and the Three Bears, and these will involve counting, comparing sizes and ordering.

They sing number songs and learn to count backwards and forwards. In small groups, they will play board games, use dice, dominoes - matching spots to the correct numeral - and number 'washing' lines.

Lessons generally begin with some mental maths work, followed by some direct teaching, which will end with a discussion where children may be asked questions to get them thinking, develop their mathematical language and reinforce the work they have been doing.

At the end of the year, most children will be able to:

  • Count reliably up to 10 everyday objects
  • Find one more or one less than a given number
  • Say number names in order in familiar settings
  • Begin to relate addition to putting two sets of objects together and subtraction as taking away from a set of objects.

Some children may be able to count, recognise, write and use numbers up to 20.

In the classroom, there may be numerals made of card, plastic, sandpaper and paper. And around the classroom there may be labels such as '4 children in the role play area' and 'washing' lines with numbers on and number tracks.



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Last updated: about 3 years ago