Educators focus on the following aspects of children’s learning:
- Interest in exploring, recognising and making connections between patterns and relationships in everyday situations.
- Developing awareness and understanding of the symbol systems associated with number, time and money.
- Interest in counting, sorting, categorising, ordering and comparing collections, and in predicting sequences and events.
- Developing ability to describe the attributes and properties of shapes, objects and materials.
- Developing vocabulary to convey mathematical thinking and ideas.
- Increasing understanding of mathematical concepts using vocabulary or gesture to describe size, length, volume, capacity, number, position, direction, time and money.
- Interest in creating and using representation to organise, record and communicate mathematical ideas and concepts.
Educators intentionally promote this learning, for example, when they:
- use numbers spontaneously or in everyday conversations and interactions, for example, during finger plays, games, songs, rhymes and chants
- incorporate cultural events, symbols and experiences that involve patterns of repeated sequences, for example, in movement, songs, art, games, dance, manipulative play, routines and stories
- draw children’s attention to patterns in the environment, such as leaves in sunlight, waves on sand, spider webs, bark on trees, birds in the sky, tracks in the sand
- encourage experimentation with space, measurement, position, sorting and classification
- provide explicit prompts to help children make abstract connections, for example, ‘look at this one – it’s bigger than that one’, ‘can you see a big one too?’
- draw attention to and label concepts of difference, such as ‘more’ and ‘less’, ‘big’ and ‘small’, ‘over’ and ‘under’
- draw attention to and label numerical symbols in the environment, e.g. calendars and clocks, page numbers in books, number plates on cars, signs and advertising, keyboards, mobile phones, GPS
- engage children in discussions about symbol systems, such as letters, numbers, time, money and musical notation
- model the process of counting to solve everyday problems, for example, ‘how many do you think we need?’ ‘let’s count together!’
- provoke thought in children’s everyday conversations, for example, ‘I wonder if it’s full yet?’ ‘that’s a big one!’ ‘let’s look under the table!’
- provide intentional prompts to assist children to recall numeracy ideas, for example ‘can you remember when we counted up to 5?’
- support children’s contribution to mathematical and scientific discussions and arguments
- acknowledge children’s effort, interest and experimentation with numeracy ideas, for example, ‘let’s make a list!’, ‘draw a plan’
- provide multiple opportunities for children to experiment with the properties of sand, water, blocks and natural materials
- incorporate opportunities to make a whole, take away from, or cut in half, for example, games, clay, play dough and cooking experiences.
Documenting and reflecting
Educators look for evidence of children’s learning. Examples are listed below.
In the familiar contexts of family and community when children:
- use environmental markers to determine direction and position
- make sense and order of their world through kinship patterns and relationships
- mimick counting, for example, 1, 4, 3
- hold up fingers to indicate ‘how many’ or ‘how old they are’, for example, ‘I dis many’
- show an acute sense of spatial awareness and an intuitive feel for the surroundings and the objects in them
- understand time in terms of, for example, night time, day time, bird hunting season and bush food picking seasons
- make designs and patterns in play, dance and art.
In new and unfamiliar contexts of an early learning program when children:
- play randomly with materials and resources
- use gesture to communicate size, for example, use hands to indicate ‘how big’ ‘how long’
- use modelled language to talk about the properties of shapes or patterns
- experiment with combining objects and parts, for example, a puzzle or a mobile truck
- attempt to use words to describe shapes, for example, round, square or star
- imitate adults or other children using money in play
- begin to respond to simple one-step directions to show understanding of position, for example, ‘sit on the chair’, ‘put the rubbish in the bin’.
In the familiar contexts of a culturally secure early learning program when children:
- explore, sort and describe the attributes of objects and collections
- experiment in play with mathematical tools, such as rulers, tape measures, calculators, scales and measuring cups
- dismantle, reassemble and combine objects and parts with purpose
- recite number names in familiar songs, finger plays and games
- respond to directions involving position, for example, ‘over’, ‘under’, ‘on’, ‘up’ and ‘down’
- respond to concepts such as big, small, long, short, high, low, full, empty, heavy and light in play
- recognise some comparative language, for example, ‘this one is bigger’ ‘I need more’
- use words like ‘long’ and ‘tall’ in simple sentences
- pretend to exchange money in play
- respond to ‘time’ words such as start, finish, begin and end.