Education Endowment Foundation:EEF Blog: Five new resources to help teachers maximise early mathematical moments

EEF Blog: Five new resources to help teachers maximise early mathematical moments

Simon Cox
Simon Cox
Blog •3 minutes •

Current teacher and EEF maths specialist, Simon Cox, introduces five brand new resources designed by Early Years practitioners to help teachers purposefully integrate maths into the school day…

…settings need to be consistent in their approach, whilst planning for progression, along with considering ways to assess children’s understanding

The EEF’s guidance report, Improving Mathematics in the Early Years and Key Stage 1, was published in January 2020

One of its key recommendations encourages explicit teaching of mathematical ideas through short, frequent teaching, which should be active and playful. This includes discussing the maths in storybooks, playing and discussing mathematical games, doing puzzles, and singing number rhymes – alongside the opportunities found in valuable mathematical moments, such as snack time, registration time, and tidy-up time.

Here are five new resources which have been developed to sit alongside the guidance report to support schools and early years settings in maximising those mathematical moments:

1. Every picture book tells a mathematical story

Storybooks can be particularly effective in the teaching of maths, through providing an opportunity for mathematical talk and questioning

Evidence suggests that explicit support for practitioners – for example, by providing question and discussion prompts and ideas for further activities –can be useful. To support this, we have put together a storybook planning guide, and planning tool.

Ideas for appropriate mathematical storybooks can be found on the Maths Through Stories, and the Erikson Early Maths websites.

2. Plan for mathematical moments

Taking opportunities to find the mathematics in everyday activities, such as snack time and registration, seem relatively straightforward. But evidence suggests that in order to maximise the impact, schools and settings need to be consistent in their approach, whilst planning for progression, along with considering ways to assess children’s understanding.

To support teachers in this, we have worked with early years specialists to develop an animation showing mathematical moments throughout the day.

3. Question, discuss and prompt

High-quality talk and extended dialogue are key to children’s development, and practitioners have a vital role to play in supporting this

Much of the effectiveness of the use of storybooks and mathematical moments depends on how they are used, and dialogue and well-crafted questioning are central to doing this well. Indeed, rich mathematical talk to foster sustained shared thinking, alongside guided interaction, are both approaches that can be used well for maths.

To support the development of questioning, we have produced a series of question and discussion prompts which can be used alongside the resources mentioned above.

4. Voices from the classroom

Exemplification is important: schools learn from other schools and it is useful to hear how they are putting evidence into practice

The EEF’s Research Schools Network includes a number of Early Years and Key Stage 1 settings with practitioners who have written some fascinating blogs about their experiences – for example:

  • Mathematical routines in Year 1 – Clare Christie (Lead Practitioner at Ashley Down Schools Federation)
  • The importance of playing games – Emma Flockton (EYFS SLE with Scarborough Teaching Alliance)
  • The importance of vocabulary – Mari Palmer (North Yorkshire Coast Research School)
  • Using story books – Rob Newton (Huntington Research School)

Get in touch with your local Research School if you’d like to find out more about their work, and for information about a new training programme to accompany our guidance.

5. Prioritisation is key

As with any improvement priority, effective implementation is critical. We would urge against trying to change too much too quickly. Instead, focus on the areas most likely to make a difference in your context.

To help with this challenge of effective change, our audit tool can help you to establish current practice, as well as to monitor progress towards the development of more effective practice.