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Maths Café

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Early years Maths

katiewatie17 29 September 2015 22:37

Hi all. I'm new to this website but would appreciate some help if possible. I'm looking for help in what a good maths lesson looks like in Reception. I am a KS1 leader but have been put in charge of Maths in EYFS and KS1 aswell but I'd really like some guidance for Early Years as I have no background in that stage.

Any help greatly appreciated


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helenjw 30 September 2015 08:49

Where to start... !

A Reception maths lesson may take many forms! However- it does not look anything like most maths lessons in statutory school-age classes. They take place in small groups and run over from session to session. Sometimes some take place for very short periods on the carpet as a whole class. Neither should maths be planned a week at a time, as you have to build on what children know and can do, so 2 or 3 days ahead is good, and then a re-think. R teachers do not have to use the planning framework in use in the rest of the school.

I would start by visiting the R class whilst they are at work/play- quite regularly and discussing with the practitioners how they introduce maths to their children, what they do and the questions they ask to extend chidlren's thinkng. Look at the resources they have. Go in with the spirit of learning from them! Ask them what their concerns and needs are.

Yoiu should read the EYFS guidance on Early Yrs maths and look at the Early Yrs section of the Nrich site: http://nrich.maths.org/early-years - great ideas and exactly what a 'lesson' should look like.

If you want anything to read - post again! Sue Gifford is excellent.

Good luck and enjoy it - it's the most exciting phase!

One more point. Beware of top-down policies putting inapproporiate pressure on R children.

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helenjw 30 September 2015 10:05

You might like to read this by Sue:


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BeckyDok1985 13 June 2019 09:03

Hello all, 

Thank you for the interesting recommendations! I am a Year 2 teacher and maths lead for an infant school and I am moving to reception next year...which will be a big learning curve for me! I have worked with Reception staff to build a maths mastery approach to teaching and learning maths which has gone well. Currently, we have a daily maths carpet session and then one AF group a week for each child (so 5 focus groups for adults to lead). We also have a short 5 min maths meeting to consolidate prior learning through songs, subitising games, counting etc. 

The EY lead is proposing that to free up the timetable next year we should get rid of carpet sessions and just have AF groups and a short maths meeting. I'm worried about the impact that this will have on children's maths understanding as I feel that a carpet session is still an important way of acheiveng depth of understanding and provides context for a focus activity...

It would be interesting to know what everyone's thoughts are on this. Does anyone not teach carpet sessions? 

Thanks for your help!


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helenjw 20 June 2019 13:14

first some Q that I don't understand! What is an AF group please? What is the difference between a carpet session and a maths meeting?  


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ShaziaJ1 27 June 2019 11:18


I believe AF means Adult Focus activity where chn participate in an activity which an adult is facilitating.

A carpet session is a quick intro of an actitivy or element example 'Addition' which you will be teaching but I dont understand what you mean by Maths meeeting?  

Hope this is helpful!








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helenjw 28 June 2019 14:34

Thanks - 'I don't know what a maths meeting' is, it wasnt my terminolgy! it was used by the BeckyDok above. In rsponse to the orginal query I think what BeckyDok's earlyyears lead may be querying when she talks about 'freeing up' the timetable is the amount of time R children are sitting still and listening rather than actively and independently interacting with each other and manipulatives of all sorts. Becky -  I think you may both beneift from talking together about what you each expect children to get out of each of these structures. Children need time and space to make sense of what we are teaching them, and this doesn't tend to happen on a carpet as part of a large group. Also the younger the child and the earlier in the year it is, the less time they need to be sat down, simply listening (and particularly for long stretches of time!). I used to benefit a lot from having a very free R timetable, expecially in the autumn term. It gave me opportunies to observe and engage with them, see what they were interested in; without this time my teaching would have been adrfit and far less effecive. Hope that helps! Good luck! Reception is a brilliant year group. I tweet about early years maths if you use Twitter as @helenjwc 



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