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UNCOVERED: Maths mastery for four-year-olds

Katie Hiatt is a Publisher at Pearson and has led the development of Power Maths Reception. Here, she explains the CPA method and how it’s suited to children in early years.

With a mastery approach becoming increasingly popular in primary schools, many school leaders are starting to consider how to embed mastery in their reception classrooms, without compromising on giving children a rounded experience of early years. Here are some ways you can align a mastery approach with early years best practice:

Focus on foundations

Don’t worry about teaching reception children to count to higher numbers or the names of every 3D shape you can find – these things can come later. What’s really important is that children begin to develop a sense of the underlying concepts and structures of maths. Some children may come to school already fluently counting to ten and beyond – but do they really, deeply understand what these numbers mean? Can they recognise and represent five in a variety of ways? Can they pick five pencils from a pot of ten? Do they know what pairs of numbers make up five, and when they’ve found all the pairs? Children need to master these foundation skills in order to succeed in KS1 and beyond. maths mastery - Katie Hiatt, publisher at Pearson

CPA the early years way

CPA stands for concrete, pictorial, abstract – an approach that is being championed by the NCETM and Maths Hubs.

Many teachers find that using concrete resources in maths comes naturally in EYFS – and that’s great! Being able to touch, feel and manipulate the maths is an ideal way to help children develop an understanding of the underlying concepts. But some teachers find it more difficult to move children from that great starting point to a pictorial and then abstract approach.

Teaching children how to represent objects is a good starting point – it’s not practical to get three elephants and two camels into the room to sort them, so what could we use instead? Moving from a representation with a clear link (such as toy elephants and camels) to representation with something less obviously linked (such as counters and a part-whole model) ensures children understand the concept of representation as well as the underlying structure of this particular problem, building a firm foundation for later success in maths.

Abstract maths doesn’t have to mean formal written maths. Try using sound and movement – how many claps can you hear? Can you hop five times? Can you line up in threes? Activities like these ensure children are not relying solely on visual cues.

Develop a growth mindset in maths

A key way to help children become ready for KS1 is to embed a growth mindset right from the start. Made a mistake? No worries! Learn from it, and have another go. Something you tried hasn’t worked? What could you try instead? Growth mindset attitudes to learning will help children become confident, curious and resilient learners, not just in maths but across the whole curriculum.

Power Maths Reception combines a mastery teaching approach with Early Years best practice to help children be ready for maths in KS1 and beyond. It also includes built-in professional development for teachers.

Find out more at: pearsonprimary.co.uk


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