Mathematics Resources for Early Childhood Educators

See that mathematics is indeed all around.  

Mathematics in early childhood education is about making the most of everyday opportunities to draw connections to mathematics. While eating lunch, an educator may introduce shape by talking about how the sandwiches are cut into triangles today.  

Our resources help educators build their understanding of mathematics and the ways to scaffold learning to extend children’s knowledge and skills. They champion play as a leading pedagogical approach to foster learning. 

For inspiring and fresh early years maths activities, check out Maths Is All Around You, Developing Early Maths through Story, and Developing Early Maths Skills Outdoors.  Educators and children will come away seeing mathematics in the everyday.


What is mathematics in early childhood education? 

Mathematics in early childhood education is the everyday learning opportunities about mathematics young children participate in across a range of contexts (MacDonald, 2018).  

By mathematics, MacDonald (2018) means knowledge about patterns, relationships, representations, symbols, abstraction, and generalisations.  

Mathematics learning opportunities can occur both formally and informally, spontaneously and planned.  

As Marianne Knaus says in Maths Is All Around You, “Daily, children encounter mathematical experiences that require meaningful use of numbers, measurement, shape and spatial thinking.” From these everyday encounters, children develop abstract thinking that supports mathematics learning.  

An educator’s role is to harness these opportunities when they arise, “mathematising” them. This is when opportune moments and contexts are connected to maths concepts to help the child understand the occurring mathematics.  

What is the importance of maths in the early years? 

The importance of maths in the early years is to lay a foundation for children’s future learning and success in mathematics.  

International research shows early mathematics experiences are crucial for future educational success. New Zealand’s Competent Children study tracked learners from early childhood to adulthood.  

At age 10, the quality of early childhood education positively influenced children's competencies that lead to successful adulthood. Mathematical ability was a significant factor. The study illustrated most children acquire mathematics knowledge and skills before the age of eight years.  

The early years are also crucial for developing attitudes and dispositions that will influence children’s learning throughout their lives. For example, curiosity and perseverance are key dispositions for early childhood mathematics and later educational success. 

Additionally, mathematics enables children to think logically, strategically, creatively and critically.  

Lastly, early mathematical understanding provides a building block for success in other areas of life and work.  

How to support maths in the early years? 

To support maths in the early years, educators should encourage a positive mathematical mindset. Boaler (2022) outlines six points to empower maths learning. The first is to instil in children that the brain is not fixed and learning can occur at any age. Learn more by reading Marianne Knaus’s blog

Educators should also engage children’s natural curiosity through everyday activities, play and interests to develop and extend their mathematical knowledge and skills. A body of evidence shows a balance between teacher-initiated group work and child-initiated play is most effective. 

To best support learners, educators need a sound understanding of mathematics. This allows them to capture learning opportunities when they arise and implement appropriate and challenging maths early years activities.  

Educators will use their knowledge to scaffold learning to extend the child’s mathematical thinking while simultaneously valuing their contribution.