“Natural Maths” for 3-5 Year Old Children

Can mathematics be taught at an early age? Is it beneficial to do so? What sort of mathematics can be taught in the 3-5 year old age group?

In this blog post we will answer these questions (and, as a sneak peak, here are the short answers: Yes, Yes, and Pretty Advanced Stuff, as it turns out!)

Mathematics can indeed be taught at an early age and it is beneficial to do so for at least two reasons: first, it helps put in place the fundamental mathematical concepts, which will carry a child’s understanding of the subject through primary school and beyond; and second, it introduces the topic without cumbersome tasks that tend to tire children and possibly dissuade them from taking up mathematics later on.

The prevailing wisdom among parents and early years professionals is that early math should begin with numbers and counting, starting with small numbers up to 5 and slowly introducing bigger numbers, before moving on to addition and eventually subtraction (in primary school). Multiplication and division are more advanced operations that are taught only in primary school. All through this linear progression from one task to the next, there is a strong focus on calculation. As a result, central concepts of mathematics, such as functions and variables, limits and symmetry, are typically introduced in high school. However, these very concepts are the ones that mathematicians identify as their true “tools of the trade”. The ability to memorize a multiplication table, by comparison, is only marginally useful.

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A Hybrid Educational Approach in Early Years

There are a number of established educational approaches in the early years sector and, even though there are many differences between them, they all share the same simple goal: to help every child fulfil his or her potential.

The main differences between these approaches lie in the fact that they use different methodologies, all of which are recognised by Ofsted and form part of the Early Years Foundation Stage framework. The Montessori approach, for instance, puts at its centre a child’s independence in learning and development, while the Reggio Emilia approach focuses on how the environment can act as a ‘third teacher’.

In this post we will navigate through the core approaches and explain, in simple terms, how we combine their best elements into a unique hybrid approach which is followed here at Alphablocks Nursery School & Pre-Prep, a boutique nursery in the heart of Hadley Wood village, serving the local communities of Barnet, Enfield and parts of Hertfordshire.

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Setup for Open Day – before everyone arrived!

The fine balance between teaching and play

A recent report by Ofsted produced a good practice survey to address the recurring myth that teaching and play are separate activities in the early years education sector.

Inspectors visited a sample of the most successful early years providers to observe the interplay between teaching and play. All providers were selected because they were successful in achieving good or better outcomes for children.

You can read the full report here: Teaching and play in the early years: a balancing act

Read about Alphablocks Nursery School’s ethos and approach to early years education, as well as best practices on How to choose a nursery for your child.

Alphablocks Nursery School in Hadley Wood empowers children to become confident learners through a balanced combination of hybrid teaching methods and play.

How to choose the right nursery school for your child

Choosing a nursery school for your child is far from easy. Nursery schools cover a crucial age group in terms of child development, from around the age of 2 to the age of 5. A nursery school’s aim shouldn’t simply be to care for your child in a safe environment. It should also provide carefully selected learning resources and opportunities for real growth. It should tailor everything it does around empowering your child to become a confident, independent learner. We’re here to help you choose a nursery school which can rise to this key challenge.

The importance of early education cannot be underestimated and many parents start thinking about it around the time of their child’s second birthday. More often than not parents tend to get quite anxious, as there are many parameters to consider, lots of perspectives to take into account. After all, a nursery school represents a child’s first experience with the educational system. They feel that this first educational setting could potentially shape their child’s future attitude towards learning. And quite rightly so – the evidence so far is indeed pointing to that conclusion.

So the central question then becomes: What is the most important thing when choosing a nursery school? Is it the quality of the teachers and early years professionals who work with the children? Is it the quality of the indoor / outdoor environment and the learning opportunities it provides? Or is it perhaps that children are well-cared for and have loads of fun when at school?

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