Play games to boost early maths skills, says EEF

Schools and nurseries should explore mathematics through games, storybooks, puzzles and songs, according to new guidance from the Education Endowment Foundation.

The document, Improving mathematics in the early years and key stage 1, sets out ways school leaders can help children develop a sound understanding of maths at a young age.

It recommends that leaders dedicate time for children to learn maths each day, and explore the subject through different contexts. Alongside games and puzzles, schools can use songs, storybooks, rhymes and puppet play.

Schools should also “make the most of moments throughout the day to highlight and use mathematics”.

According to the guidance, it is important that schools assess what children already know using a variety of methods, and then ensure teaching builds on that. High-quality, targeted support can then be used to help all children learn maths.

“Using an approach or programme that is evidence-based and has been independently evaluated is a good starting point,” the document states.

“As our report shows, there are many practical ways that teachers and early years staff can help support this important area of development,” said EEF CEO Becky Francis.

“It’s often about planning simple maths activities throughout the school day, like at story time and registration, but can also include high-quality interventions to help those who are falling behind to catch-up.”