Foundation Stage Maths

Number skills Ideas for helping with learning at home – EYFS


The youngest children at Lakeside Primary School are learning skills and understanding in numeracy through the ‘Little Big Maths’ scheme.

The learning for our youngest children can be thought of as learning about ‘amounts’.

Although children will naturally come across amounts (and their significance), our job as parents and educators is to support, and – at times – accelerate their development.

Three important areas need to be secure in a child’s understanding as they lay the foundations for numeracy success:

1. We must help children to notice (or ‘spot’) amounts by pointing out:

  • When there are ‘lots’ of something, or only a few
  • When something is very big, or very small
  • When something has gone or suddenly appeared.


How can you help your child’s learning at home in this area?


  • Sorting things by type, or colour – all the green pegs, all the toy cars, all the socks, big and small tins, sorting the washing (pairs, big, small, colours), tidying up – putting similar things together etc.
  • The words children need to understand – big/small, old/young, long/short, hot/cold, fast/slow, near/far, lots, few, gone, all gone.

2.  We must also help children to compare amounts by:

  • Comparing the amount of something available to the amount required, e.g. “do we have enough knives and forks?”
  • Comparing amounts to each other.

How can you help your child’s learning at home in this area?

  • Matching lids to saucepans, helping set the table, or share out food etc.
  • The words children need to understand – too much, too many, not enough, just right, bigger/smaller, older/younger, longer/shorter, faster/ slower, hotter/colder, nearer/further, more than, less than, the same.
  • Stories can help with understanding in this area; Goldilocks (the idea of ‘just right’), The Magic Porridge Pot (the idea of ‘too much’), The Gingerbread Man (faster/slower), Can’t You Sleep Little Bear?, Guess How Much I Love You? (nearer/further, bigger/smaller).

3. We must also support children to notice changing amounts:

  • Is it growing or shrinking?
  • Is it getting bigger or smaller?
  • Is anything happening to make it change? (Is something being added or taken away?)

How can you help your child to learn in this area at home?

  • Change in age, height, planting seeds and noticing growth, Jack and the Beanstalk story, The Very Hungry Caterpillar story, building a tower with blocks.
  • Shrinking/getting smaller; ice melting, puddles evaporating, food on their plate at meal times, The Tiger Who Came to Tea (story).
  • Experience the seasons together and talk to your child about changes that happen.
  • The words your child will need to understand; biggest/smallest, most/least, longest/shortest, oldest/youngest, fastest/slowest.

As children become confident in noticing, and comparing amounts, they will begin to discover numbers and counting. Children first learn some number names (their age for example) and begin to say them in order, later progressing to saying them backwards.

Children then learn to count in tens, fives and twos. To become competent at counting, children need to be able to:

  • Say some numbers in order
  • Recognise that the last number they say is the total amount
  • Match one number name to each object they touch or move

When helping with teaching counting, begin with small amounts up to 3, then progress one at a time to 6, and eventually to 10 and beyond.
How can you help your child learn to count at home?

  • Sing or say number rhymes together e.g. 5 currant buns, 5 fat sausages, once I caught a fish alive, 5 little men in a flying saucer etc.
  • Count as you do things such a putting plates out for dinner, steps as you go up the stairs, clothes as you peg them on the washing line, people/vehicles going passed the window.
  • Stories with numbers – Goldilocks and the Three Bears, The Three Billy Goats Gruff, The Three Little Pigs, along with specifically designed counting books.
  • Playing tea parties – count out food for different toys, matching one plate of food to each ‘guest’.
  • Throwing balls (or rolled up socks) into an empty box, counting how many went in/ missed.
  • On walks out, collect natural objects – conkers, leaves, acorns, daisies – talk about them at home and count small numbers of them.
  • Count out one penny coins.
  • Bake together – count out spoonfuls of flour, cake cases, stirs with the spoon etc.
  • Play simple dice games to help your child begin to recognise the dice patterns and develop counting.
  • Help your child to recognise written numerals around the home or by having a number hunt as you walk to school – noticing numbers on clocks, telephone, front doors, money, number plates, T.V. remotes, D.V.D. player, public transport. Explain in simple terms why the numbers are needed.

Once children can read numbers, they will then learn to order them.

Once children are secure with counting we move on to developing their calculation skills (addition, subtraction, multiplication and division).

To become competent at adding, children need to be able to:

  • Say the next number.
  • Count on from a given number.
  • Add ‘1’ more.
  • Find the total by counting how many altogether.

To become competent at subtracting, children need to be able to:

  • Say the number before.
  • Count back.
  • Know ‘1 less’.
  • Take an amount away and find out how many are left.

How can you help your child learn to calculate at home?

  • Use situations like: I had four strawberries, I have eaten two how many have I got left? Add 2 more spoonfuls of flour. Ask your child at meal times to tell you how many fish fingers there are altogether? Share 6 sweets between you.

Learning Maths facts is an important skill. At this early stage we begin by learning body facts, such as I have two hands, one head, five fingers on each hand, ten fingers in total (high – fives is a good way to reinforce this). Children then progress to learning doubling and halving numbers up to ten. We will then be focusing on ‘Number Buddy’: these are the pairs of numbers that make 10 (e.g. 2 + 8 = 10). We call these ‘Learn Its’. Children will learn many of these as they progress through the school. It is important to give lots of praise to your child for the efforts they make. They will need lots of modelling and repetition to grasp these difficult skills.

Contact Us

Lakeside Community Primary School
London Road
DE24 8UY
Telephone: 01332 571485


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