1. This site uses cookies. By continuing to use this site, you are agreeing to our use of cookies. Learn More.
  2. Hi Guest, welcome to the TES Community!

    Connect with like-minded education professionals and have your say on the issues that matter to you.

    Don't forget to look at the how to guide.

    Dismiss Notice

Addition sums

Discussion in 'Early Years' started by lizdot, Oct 6, 2018.

  1. lizdot

    lizdot New commenter


    My HT sees nothing wrong in sending a page of addition sums home as homework for reception. As an experienced early years teacher, I see everything wrong. I am, however, not good with words, and I struggled to explain why this is the case. Any clear explanations from TES members gratefully accepted!
  2. caterpillartobutterfly

    caterpillartobutterfly Star commenter

    I suppose we should be grateful that the head understands that only addition can have 'sums' and isn't trying to send home 'subtraction sums'!

    So long as you send home some practical equipment to support, or some ideas for parents around using pasta or similar, then it isn't going to be the end of the world if children are learning addition. It's not my preferred choice of homework at all, but there are bigger fights to have.
    pepper5 likes this.
  3. squashball

    squashball Occasional commenter

    It's pretty depressing to hear some HTs clearly have no grip on either the EYs curriculum OR the maths curriculum more generally (let alone arguments about the appropriateness of home learning in primary, never mind Reception). Of course, caterpillar is right, you have to pick you fights. Alternatively have a look at Development Matters and quote to your HT what children in Reception need to do to reach the EY goal (and it's not sums or even number formation or recognition - for now, anyway). Come up with some ideas as an alternative to sums and present these: can you send home a game instead (eg Joe Boaler created a really nice one for learning number bonds - suggest to parents they get 5/6/7 grapes/sweets/counters, show the children, hide some under a cup - how many are hiding - how do you know) - this sort of thing is so much better as it invites interaction and number TALK. I despair that tiny children are being told that maths is boring and uncreative in their first full year of school. Good luck.
    install likes this.
  4. Vince_Ulam

    Vince_Ulam Star commenter

    The sooner children can be given the opportunity to recognise words & numbers, the better.
    install likes this.
  5. squashball

    squashball Occasional commenter

    I don't have a problem with children recognising numbers at all - particularly those in the real world on buses and doors etc: it's just not that important in teaching early maths though. Understanding, for example, the 3'ness of three is much more than recognising the digit 3, I am sure all will appreciate. Talking of digits, take a look at Numberblocks from the BBC (created alongside NCTEM) - I'm recommending for all in early years.
  6. Vince_Ulam

    Vince_Ulam Star commenter

    There is no such thing as a '3'ness' to be understood. The most important thing for young children to know about the number three is that it stands in relation to a particular quantity and when that quantity is seen it is to be subitized as three, so too with other numbers.
  7. squashball

    squashball Occasional commenter

    The number 3 on my phone is not a quantity. Nor is the number 3 on the bus. I'm all for subitising small numbers, (and spoke about estimating previously) but you can't subitise noises or things which you can't see, which is where understanding 3 as many different things comes in, including age, size, quantity, position.

    OP get a good book on teaching maths: I recommend Sue Gifford "Learning Mathematics 3-5"
  8. caterpillartobutterfly

    caterpillartobutterfly Star commenter

    I have a boy in nursery who can put a 3 and a 4 together and tell me it is 34 and so on for all two digit numbers and some three digit. He spends hours doing it given a chance.

    However, if I show him a 3 and ask him to give me three counters/pompoms/teddies/whatever he hasn't a clue where to start. If I say 'How many cutters are here?' at the playdough table he just looks at me as if I'm speaking a different language.

    His mum thinks he is really gifted because he can make these two digit numbers, know what they are and count to 20 reasonably accurately. However he has absolutely no idea what any of them mean or that they relate to quantities. The concept of 'how many' is not understood at all. I could probably start him on 'sums' and he would learn that 2+3=5, but still have no idea of what that means.

    I assume this is the kind of thing @squashball means by 'threeness' and so on.
    Chicken_madras and squashball like this.
  9. Vince_Ulam

    Vince_Ulam Star commenter

    You are not a young child.

    Where these are represented symbolically, children can. To teach children number it is essential to teach them representation of quantities.

    Cardinality precedes ordinality. They are not to be confused.
  10. Vince_Ulam

    Vince_Ulam Star commenter

    This child has not acquired cardinality.
  11. caterpillartobutterfly

    caterpillartobutterfly Star commenter

    I am very aware of that and it drives me nuts that his mother has taught him such useless 'maths' and thinks he is gifted!

    He has just started in our nursery class and we are trying hard to get across to mum than pushing him ever forward with abstract maths is not the way to go. AND that the others who couldn't read or write a single digit are actually more advanced mathematically because they understand the concept of number.
  12. Vince_Ulam

    Vince_Ulam Star commenter

    Hence my frustration with teachers who expect children to 'understand' numbers without being taught from first principles.
  13. caterpillartobutterfly

    caterpillartobutterfly Star commenter

    First principles for 3 year olds is about understanding the words 'one, two three' relate to 'how many?'
    Then that there is a concept of 'more' and 'less'.
    Then that 'counting' is that language we use to say the words 'one two three'.
    Then that those words relate to an actual amount of objects in a group, but also follow a series for counting dots on a dice and so on.

    None of this requires being able to read or write the numeral.
    squashball likes this.
  14. Vince_Ulam

    Vince_Ulam Star commenter

    That two is greater than one and three is greater than two cannot be taught without an appreciation of more & less.

    As I previously stated.

    To recognise small quantities, not at all, but the recognition of the symbolic representation of a quantity is essential to arithmetic facility. The sooner this can be trained, the better.
  15. caterpillartobutterfly

    caterpillartobutterfly Star commenter

    I agree. But you can teach children to chant the names of numbers in order with no appreciation of more or less.
    This board if for EYFS, where children are almost all working with numbers under 20 and to achieve the goal at the end of reception are only required to recognise the numerals 1-5. This isn't to say that many children can't recognise numerals to ten as we have many who can. (And, in my humble opinion, if you can recognise a numeral and can hold a pencil well enough to write, you can write said numeral as well so might as well get on and learn to do that too!)

    At this stage of the year writing addition and subtraction as abstract calculations is a handwriting exercise.
  16. Vince_Ulam

    Vince_Ulam Star commenter

    Yes, but this is because it is the purpose of the chant to teach order not quantity.
  17. grumbleweed

    grumbleweed Star commenter

    Just on a point of correction, the expectation goes beyond 5 in terms of recognition, and it's quite tricky to order numbers to 20, without having reasonable knowledge of the representation.

    Having said that, I doubt Vince is an early years specialist, and would be hard pushed to provide any evidence that teaching number recognition as early as possible (let's do flash cards with babies shall we?),, actually improves children's developmental understanding of number concepts. Yes no one would argue that children need to learn the mathematical symbolisation we use , but there is a time , and the sooner the better (whenever that actually is) is rarely the right time.

    I get so cheesed off when I hear people say "he really knows his numbers" and equates this to being a mathematical genius , when what they really mean is that he/she can recognise symbols. this does not make them mathematicians, does not mean they have any understanding of what that symbol means. Much like children who can recognise letters of the alphabet but can't yet read .

    To the OP , there's nothing in the EYFS about writing sums , just being able to add single digit numbers and this can be wholly practical with real objects, and represented in the child's own way , and is the expectation for the end of the year, not now.
  18. Vince_Ulam

    Vince_Ulam Star commenter

    Not many Early Years or Primary specialists are Mathematics specialists. @caterpillartobutterfly is a worthy exception.

    1. I have not said that there should be any 'teaching' for number recognition 'as early as possible'.
    2. There are no concepts independent of their representation.
  19. caterpillartobutterfly

    caterpillartobutterfly Star commenter

    And much as I don't tend to scapegoat all primary teachers for the total failures of year 7 knowledge, I do often share your frustration with the sheer uselessness of some staff, even some heads of maths in primary schools.

    Representation matters, of course it does. But a bit like trying to teach a child to read before it can speak, teaching number recognition before a child has any clue of size or amount is a waste of everyone's time.
  20. Vince_Ulam

    Vince_Ulam Star commenter

    Fair is fair, put these things into the same context. In a school when young children are taught new words to speak they are not simply expected to memorise spoken sounds & definitions but are instead shown graphical &or lexical representations of the things for which these words stand.

    Representation is everything.

Share This Page