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20 October 2014
Schools  >> All subjects for ages 4 - 11 years
Number Time
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How is numeracy taught in a reception class?

Once your child is in a reception class, s/he will be working to the guidelines of the National Numeracy Strategy. Later in the school this will mean that about an hour each day is completely devoted to mathematics, but in a reception class this is very unlikely to be the case.

Your child will certainly do some number work everyday, but this will probably be a mixture of:

  • whole class work
    number rhymes and songs, counting, games, listening to number stories, learning and talking about number facts

  • taught group work
    working with other children and a teacher

  • independent group work
    working with other children alone or with a classroom assistant

In addition to games, practical activities and writing numbers, playful activities such as the sand tray, 'home corner' or construction toys are often used to introduce and practise number skills.

What sort of number work will my child be doing in Reception?

At the start of the reception year children work mostly with numbers to 10, although by the end of the year they will be able to talk about numbers to 20 and sometimes beyond.

Understanding the sequence of numbers is one of the most important building blocks of mathematics, and so children in reception classes spend a great deal of time counting, ordering and reciting numbers, and learning to recognise them as both numerals and words.

Children at this age begin to learn to add by bringing groups of objects together and counting the total, or by 'counting on'. Similarly they will learn to subtract by splitting up groups of objects or by 'counting back'.

Most of this work will be practical, and you will notice that your child does much less written number work than you may remember doing yourself at the same age.

What is important is that children talk about their learning and ideas, developing a 'mathematical vocabulary' and a solid understanding of the number system.

Helping your child

  • Help your child to practise counting through singing, rhymes and games, and to develop an awareness of numbers in everyday experiences. ( See section on Things to do at Home)

  • Choose a time to practise numbers when your child is not feeling tired or reluctant. Mornings can be a better time than after school

  • Short but frequent times, (five or ten minutes), spent together enjoying activities which practise number skills are the best way of helping young children to become confident mathematicians.

  • Give plenty of praise and encouragement and always consult your child's teacher if there appear to be any particular difficulties.
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