Research Question: Are we seeing children’s mathematics happening all around us?

Researcher(s): Helen Barnett, Judy Burton and Beth


Status: Ongoing

The research team profiles

Beth has worked in a variety of settings within Early Years for 15 years. These include pre-school, Sure Start Children’s Centres, a Primary School and private day care where she is now based. She works with the 3-4 year olds, preparing them all for school and loves it! She has developed a deep interest in children’s mark making, in particular mathematical graphics, so is extremely excited and honoured to be part of this research project.

Helen Barnett is an Early Years teacher at Fallodon Playgroup. Fallodon Playgroup is a packaway setting that operates 5 mornings a week, term-time only. It is a very reflective practice, always striving to produce high quality early years provision.  Their first Ofsted visit after registration in April 2013 resulted in a ‘Good’ rating, the highest rating they could have achieved as a new registration and one they are very proud of. They have highly qualified staff, most of whom have or are working towards degrees and further degrees, and between them have a wealth of experience and years of working with children and young people.

Judy Burton joined Harcourt Pre-School in November 2007 and is a Qualified Teacher.  She is a qualified teacher specialising in mathematical development. Her additional training at Harcourt includes: Leadership and Management, Supporting children with additional needs and Learning Language and Loving It. Judy enjoys observing the speed at which children learn, their interest in everything and their capacity for fun and laughter. Her particular interests are in early maths and emergent numeracy and supporting children in developing their own conflict resolution strategies.

Emma Butcher and Jo Morgan are supporting colleagues from the ‘Developing Maths Leaders’ course to undergo their own research at their setting. Each setting is focusing on an area of mathematics, but sharing the same outcome:

Are we seeing children’s mathematics happening all around us?

We all believe each child brings ‘funds of knowledge’ from their homes to explore at school and every child is a mathematician.

We are going to meet every term to talk about progress.

Beth at Fledglings Nursery is researching mathematical graphics and focusing on children under two years old.

Helen at Fallodon is focusing on the different ways children engage with mathematics. She feels imaginary play is important. Helen said ‘with imagination anything is possible.

Judy is going to focus on three children and present her findings in the format of case studies for each child, this will reflect their mathematics learning journey.

Some interesting questions we have thought about so far…

  • Is mathematics being limited to fit within the EYFS?
  • Does Early Years Maths have a ceiling? If so, why? Where has this come from?
  • Assessment of mathematics – it can be harder to see how children are meeting statements so assessment tends to be something set up – do we need to look at how to assess mathematics in play based learning?
  • Are the statements in the EYFS actually understood in terms of play?
  • How does a child’s mathematical understanding develop from infancy?
  • Is it harder to draw out mathematical understanding from some children than others?
  • How can we support parents with seeing their children’s own mathematical understanding?
  • How do we raise the profile of children’s mathematics with practitioners working in the early years?

For more information about the research project please contact Emma or Jo

Emma –