Maths in the Early Years

I don’t know if you remember a few years ago when there was a big hoo-hah in the media about how dreadful it was that nurseries were being asked to teach maths to babies? The headlines were sensational and implied that Britain was heading towards a ridiculous state of affairs. There was lots of tutting and rolling of eyes by journalists who believed nurseries would be worse off for encouraging children to play with mathematical concepts.

Well, of course, parents and nursery practitioners already knew that babies want to learn about maths anyway, whether we want them to or not.

It makes no difference if the aim is written into a curriculum or displayed in a chart. With or without our help, babies and young children are fascinated by size, shape and numbers. They love the challenge of building block towers or fitting shapes into sorters. They are never happier than when exploring volume through pouring water or sand to and from different-sized containers.


Number songs are among the most popular in nursery – ‘One, Two, Buckle my Shoe’ or ‘Five Little Ducks’ being top of the list.

 Children singing at Harpole Day Nursery


If you are interesting in finding out more about how we support the development of maths skills at Harpole, have a look at the link below. It’s from the Early Years charity in Northern Ireland which ironically is nothing to do with the Early Years guidelines that we follow in England and Wales, but they offer lots of sound advice and tips for parents on the subject of maths:

Nursery practioners at Harpole spend a lot of time preparing activities and resources for the children to develop their maths skills. I hope you’ll agree that these photos show the children fully engaged in ‘play’ with maths. Good job we didn’t listen to those journalists, eh?!

Girl counting

Maths in the Early Years