Topic outline

  • Mathematics and Numeracy

    Mathematics and numeracy

    Maths is everywhere.  We all think of numbers and adding and taking away, complicated equations to measure circles and such like.  But maths is so much more than that.  From the very earliest stages of development babies and young children begin to understand all sorts of mathematical concepts such as size, comparing, patterns, games, matching, ordering, sharing, rhythm and problem solving.  These are all about learning about how the world around us works.  Maths is about developing skills for life.

    So what does this look like for children at Ysgol Pen Coch, most of whom are working at early or even the earliest developmental levels?

    Maths helps children to make sense of the world around them and to manage their lives.  Creative and engaging maths lessons help children at all levels of ability to develop problem solving and organisation skills, and can be playful and rewarding.  For some children this may be learning numbers, sums and money, for others it will be puzzles, rhymes and sorting.  Early maths skills begin with an understanding of their body, space, movement, cause and effect, games and sensory exploration.  Indeed the earliest mathematical skills perhaps do not even look like maths to those of us who have done maths through into secondary school.

    Your child will have a broad and rich maths experience in school.  We will plan and deliver lessons and activities that will help your child practice and build their thinking skills.  We use a range of hands on approaches with blocks and dough, water and sand, paint and music to keep their learning lively and motivating.  There are lots of engaging maths games and puzzles available to use on class computers and iPads which most children love.    Play based learning is a vital part of our approach to lessons, helping your child to think for themselves, solve problems, explore ideas, establish connections and begin to co-operate with others.  It means they can spend time on the activities that they really enjoy, and make progress in their own way.  Staff work hard in school to make learning fun for your child.

    Almost any activity will have maths in it somewhere, even if the lesson is PE, art or science or even if it's not a planned lesson at all.  Our staff are skilled at making use of these opportunities to ensure your child's maths learning is firmly embedded in their understanding.  How many steps is it to cross the hall?  Do I need to paint a long line or a short one?  Can you sort the farm animals into groups?  Can I give a plate to everyone at the table at snack time?  This is all maths.

    We divide our maths curriculum into the areas below, where we've given you some ideas for activities you can try at home to help your child's maths learning.

    Thinking Skills

    Early developmental skills around object permanence and building attention lend themselves to lots of fun games like hiding a toy under a box - where has it gone, peek-a-boo games etc.  Practice cause and effect making things happen, build a tower and knock it down with a crash.  Start ordering and sorting using sensory approaches with smells, textures etc to build response and awareness of difference.  Use hand/eye co-ordination toys to develop observation and manipulation skills.  Play with torches, bells, mirrors etc to develop attention skills.


    Numbers are everywhere.  Spot them around the house, out and about, on the telly.  Line a few objects up and count them, being careful to keep your pointy finger in time with the count, one number for one thing.  Compare the amount of things in different groups, match a group of 3 object to the number 3, 4 objects to the number 4 etc.  Order numbers.  Sing counting rhymes - "10 in the bed", "5 little ducks" etc.  Beat time to favourite songs.  Take numbers as far as your child can go with them - count to 10, 20, beyond.  Play simple board games with dice (with dots to begin with, and count out the dots, and move onto a dice with numbers when your child understands what the number means).  Race with toy cars - who came 1st, 2nd, 3rd?

    Shape, Space and Measure

    During the day talk about relationships - is a tin of peas heavy, is a packet of crisps light?  What is near and far, big and small, long and short?  How tall can you build a tower?  Where can you find circles, squares, rectangles, triangles around the house?  Does it take a long time to go to the local shops, to school, to nain and taids' house?  Water play is good fun with some different size cups and bowls to explore pouring and volume.  Plan the day, morning or just the next activity: what will come now, then and next?  Use dough to make shapes.  Cooking is excellent for measuring and sharing - don't worry about using grammes, millilitres - your child can pour something out until you say "when."


    Get your child to help while out shopping, if you have the time, or roleplay at home.  It doesn’t matter if your child doesn't understand money, the action of handing coins over to receive something in exchange is important.  Handling money - get used to the shape, size and weight of different coins, notes and maybe even plastic.


    Organise and group things.  How many blue cars in the car park?  How many toy cows, pigs, horses in their play farm?  Put all the spoons out on the table.  Sort all the green things from the yellow (lots of different