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Early maths – keeping track

    Love it or loathe it?

    Look at the children in the photo – developing not just confidence and risk taking, but also essential elements of spatial cognition that underlies nearly everything in maths. Many people, though, feel pulled in two directions about early numeracy and mathematics. On the one hand, we know it is very important and we also know it can be a lot of fun.

    But there can also be some uncertainty or even fear. These are tricky concepts (can you tell me what cardinality really means? If you can, you are doing better than most philosophers of mathematics!)

    Lost in space?

    It’s easy to lose the richness of what is going on in children’s play, and easy as well to feel we are not quite able to support the learning we’d like to. On a bad day, maths can become a matter of counting plastic bears (or acorns if you are more up to date) or making tally marks on the wall.

    And – another worry – we are beginning another high stakes learning phase in early years. Practitioners are meant to track children’s learning and show how their planning links to this.

    Hard enough to do, but maths is HUGE. Number, time, money, shape, symmetry, patterns and so on … How do we see all this in play and not get lost in the process?

    A play based progression

    A team in Highland and Shetland Councils (of which I’m proud to be part) has been working on a progression or map for maths learning. Every item is based on what we can see in children’s play and what we can then support or encourage. There are onward links to some ideas (we’d like to add more over time)

    For people in Scotland, it is linked to the Early Level benchmarks, so there is a continuous flow from very young children to the curriculum expectations at the end of Primary 1. Who needs worksheets?

    Please use, spread, come back to us with comments. I’ve put it on here because it was a huge piece of work and good to share – please if you do use it, attribute to Highland Council (full credits are on the document)

    Here it is – click the image to download:

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