Maths skills for ages 4-5
Developing early maths skills
These ideas will help your child to develop their confidence in counting and in recognising and using numbers. They will also help your child to explore shape, patterns and measurements in real-life contexts.
Things to try with your child
1. Talk together
Talk with your child about maths to build their confidence and help them see how maths is used in everyday life. Try following a recipe together, talking about the numbers in the recipe and counting ingredients: ‘We need 2 scoops of flour. We need 1 cherry for each cake.' Set the table together, and ask: ‘Who will be eating dinner today? How many forks do we need?’
Want a recipe to try? Try these fruit muffins >
2. Play together
Play games that involve number and counting, like bingo, dice, dominoes and card games. Play around with magnetic numbers to help your child’s number recognition. Board games like Snakes and Ladders are also great for practising counting forwards and backwards.
Want to play some games? Try these maths games >
3. Explore shape
Point out different shapes around you whenever possible. Ask your child how many objects in the kitchen are square or triangular, and look for shapes in the world around you. Choose a 'Shape of the Week' and then see how many times you can spot this shape around you. Ask your child to describe the shape to you. Play 'Shape Tickle'. Draw shapes on your child's back and ask if they can guess what shape it is by feel. Ask: 'How many sides has it got? How many sides do you think are the same length?' Cut out a picture from a magazine and cut it into pieces to make a jigsaw. Use building blocks or construction kits to make shapes.
Want to read an eBook about shapes? Try this (you'll need to register for free or sign in to access it):
Can you find all the shapes in the pages of this book?
4. Spot patterns
Look for repeating patterns on curtains, wallpaper, or clothing. Ask your child: 'Can you see a pattern? Tell me about it. What will come next?' Start patterns with blocks, beads, playing cards or toys and encourage your child to build on the pattern to make it longer. Look for patterns in time together (e.g. seasons, months or daily routines) and talk about what you notice: 'We always go to the supermarket on a Monday. We go swimming on a Tuesday.' Listen for patterns in songs and clap or dance the rhythm.
5. Practise forming numerals
Help your child to learn the numerals by exploring their shapes. Have fun forming numbers in sand with a stick. Make numbers out of modelling clay. Write numbers for your child to copy. Hold your hand over theirs as they write the number so they can feel how to write it. Try holding their finger and forming the number in the air. Begin to encourage your child to write numbers on their own.
Want a fun activity to practise writing numbers?
Watch this musical animation and download the activity sheet to the right to help your child write their numbers.
Practise writing numbers with this activity sheet and the musical animation to the left.
6. Practise position words
Practise position words with your child by having a treasure hunt. Follow clues like ‘over the bench’, ‘under the tree’, ‘next to the bush’. Draw a map to show the route you took.
Want to read an eBook about position words? Try The Three Bears (you'll need to register for free or sign in to access it).
Help children understand position words, such as on, in and under with The Three Bears.
7. Play maths games
Try these fun games with your child to practise early maths skills and help to build your child's confidence. Most children love playing games and it's an easy way to support their learning.
Look at the pictures and drag and drop them into the right order.
Practise adding number bonds by dragging and dropping the numbers to make correct number sentences.
Visit our fun maths activities page for a selection of activities and resources designed to help you enjoy maths with your child.