“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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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.

Play’s the thing: new research directions on the importance of play from the University of Cambridge

A four year old girl (who happens to be my daughter, but this could be almost any child in that age group) is gathering sticks and leaves in the park. She uses them to make a tiny tent on the base of a large oak tree. I don’t interfere with her play, although I’m just near enough to make out some of the things she’s saying to her imaginary pets. Apparently, there is a storm coming and they have to protect themselves while she’s away. Later on, she will explain the whole situation to her friend, who’ll join her important project, and together they’ll ensure the safety of their extraordinary collection of pets – ranging from squirrels to unicorns. This is play in its purest form and, as most parents and early years educators would say, it seems to be extremely beneficial for the overall development and learning of children.

outdoor_children_playing

The impact of spontaneous play on early learning cannot be overestimated – Alphablocks Nursery School & Pre-Prep, Hadley Wood

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Open Days for Autumn Term 2015-16

Come visit us on one or more of our Open Days this Autumn!

Alphablocks Nursery School Hadley Wood Cockfosters Nursery

Role play area

We would like to welcome you and your child in our new, boutique nursery school at the heart of Hadley Wood village.

Alphablocks Nursery School & Prep is now accepting placements for 2-5 year old children to start in the Spring Term of 2015-16 (i.e., from January 2016). It would be a great opportunity for you to see all the wonderful things we’re doing and ask questions about our educational approach, and how we expect to maximize your child’s learning potential in a fun, caring and inclusive environment. Learn more about us in our FAQs page.

Book your place now!