How do young children think about maths?

How do young children think about maths?

We thought that Komodo parents, particularly those of younger children, might be interested in the most recent episode of BBC Radio's  'All in the mind', exploring how children develop an understanding of mathematics. 

It's nice to hear maths being discussed on national radio - especially when it features a friend of Komodo, developmental psychologist Dr Victoria Simms. 

This programme looks at how young children first start thinking mathematically and how those early skills, such as understanding the ideas of 'more than' and 'less than', can be developed into symbolic maths such as matching the digit  5 with five objects  - This is  second nature to us as adults so it’s easy to forget  children under 5 need to develop this association. 

The episode also looks at the ways the home environment can have an influence on preschool children's mathematical development - and it's not always how you'd think. Parents may think maths starts at school but this programme shows there are plenty of fun and creative opportunities to develop maths understanding with 3 and 4 year olds at home.  

Other topics such as maths anxiety and dyscalculia are touched upon, noting that the researchers have developed a set of resources for teachers to help them encourage children who experience issues with learning and understanding the numerical system. 

In short, at just under 28 minutes long, it makes for an easy but interesting listen for parents who are juggling busy schedules.

Listen here

Key take-home for Komodo parents of young children:

The home environment has a huge capacity to influence children's ability to learn and understand maths, and it's never too soon to start building in activities that can support this. 

  • Shape play and building using blocks is really important

  • Setting the table (one cup, one knife, one fork) teaches the foundational concept of one-to-one correspondence

  • Cutting and sticking builds fine motor skills

  • Speaking to your child using words like bigger, smaller, more and less helps develop their understanding of simple mathematical language

  • Describing pictures mathematically (I see two butterflies, there is one boat) generates interest in numbers.


About Komodo - Komodo is a fun and effective way to boost primary maths skills. Designed for 5 to 11 year olds to use in the home, Komodo uses a little and often approach to learning maths (15 minutes, three to five times per week) that fits into the busy family routine. Komodo helps users develop fluency and confidence in maths - without keeping them at the screen for long.

Find out more about Komodo and how it helps thousands of children each year do better at maths - you can even try Komodo for free.

Related Posts

Help Your Child Learn: Telling the Time (Part 1)

Learning to tell the time can be difficult for children as it's a new concept that's not like anything else they've encountered in maths to date. This new resource features an interactive clock to practice skills and guides parents step by step through helping your child learn how to tell the time.

How to make a practice clock for learning to tell the time

Making a clock out of household objects is a great way to help your child learn about telling the time. Apart from being a great crafting activity that can while away some time on a rainy afternoon, placing and spacing numbers on the clock themselves is a really important learning objective.