About cookies

The NCETM site uses cookies. Read more about our privacy policy

Please agree to accept our cookies. If you continue to use the site, we'll assume you're happy to accept them.


Personal Learning Login

Sign Up | Forgotten password?
Register with the NCETM

Early Years

Created on 02 January 2018 by ncetm_administrator
Updated on 07 January 2019 by ncetm_administrator

Early Years

Children are born ready, able and eager to learn. They actively reach out to interact with other people, and in the world around them. Development is not an automatic process, however. It depends on each unique child having opportunities to interact in positive relationships and enabling environments(i)

child in Early Years setting engaged with teacher

The first few years of a child’s life are especially important for mathematics development. Research shows that early mathematical knowledge predicts later reading ability and general education and social progress(ii). Conversely, children who start behind in mathematics tend to stay behind throughout their whole educational journey(iii).

The objective for those working in Early Years, then, is to ensure that all children develop firm mathematical foundations in a way that is engaging, and appropriate for their age. The materials in this section of the website are primarily designed to support Reception teachers (those working with 4-5 year olds), and are based on international research.

The materials are organised into key concepts (not individual objectives), which underpin many early mathematics curricula. The typical progression highlights the range of experiences (some of which may be appropriate for younger children) but the activities and opportunities could be developed across the Reception provision.

There are six key areas of early mathematics learning, which collectively provide a platform for everything children will encounter as they progress through their maths learning at primary school, and beyond:

  • Cardinality and Counting
  • Comparison
  • Composition
  • Pattern
  • Shape and Space
  • Measures.

You can explore these areas in further detail in a special Early Years episode of our podcast with Dr Sue Gifford and Viv Lloyd.

These areas form the fundamental mathematical basis of a CBeebies series of five-minute animated programmes called Numberblocks. The NCETM has provided support materials linked to the Numberblocks programmes. These are designed to help Early Years practitioners draw out and build on the maths embedded in the stories contained in each episode.

(i) Development Matters, 2012
(ii) Duncan et al, 2007
(iii) Aubrey, Godfrey, Dahl, 2006




Comment on this item  
Add to your NCETM favourites
Remove from your NCETM favourites
Add a note on this item
Recommend to a friend
Comment on this item
Send to printer
Request a reminder of this item
Cancel a reminder of this item



04 February 2019 11:12
Hi Egriffin1, at a national level we have not produced an overview as the experiences need to build on the children’s starting points and interests. For a more detailed overview of the typical progressions then the work of Clements & Sarama ('Learning and Teaching Early Math, The Learning Trajectories Approach, 2nd Edition') on learning trajectories would be a valuable reference. However, some Maths Hubs have worked on planning overviews as part of their EY Work Groups. You may want to get in touch with your local hub to explore this further: http://mathshubs.org.uk/find-your-hub/.
03 February 2019 20:50
Is there an overview for the coverage in reception? I am currently reviewing our maths planning and wonder how the 6 areas would look as a long term plan / overview. Thank you.
By egriffin1
         Alert us about this comment  
18 January 2019 09:36
The next batch is currently in productino, although we don't have a set date for publication - sorry! It's good to knwo that they're being well-used.
18 January 2019 09:36
The next batch is currently in productino, although we don't have a set date for publication - sorry! It's good to knwo that they're being well-used.
16 January 2019 13:08
My class are responding so positively to the numberblocks support materials - thank you! When are the next set due to be avaible?
By Louise_0978
         Alert us about this comment  
10 January 2019 19:35
That completely makes sense. Would just be so much easier to be able to copy and paste the text as opposed to re-writing it for my flips. Thank you for your reply.
By AliciaValane
         Alert us about this comment  
05 December 2018 13:29
Sorry: although we've produced the materials in conjunction with the producers of Numberblocks, they hold the copyright for the images, and so the materials are only available in read-only format.
05 December 2018 13:23
Would it not be possible to be able to view it normally as opposed to read only?
By AliciaValane
         Alert us about this comment  
Only registered users may comment. Log in to comment