Mastery in Early Years

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The essential principles of mastery for other education phases are similar for early years but are applied within the context of high quality early years provision which includes through play within indoor and outdoor learning environments.  Practitioners are crucial within this in extending, introducing, assessing and modelling mathematics for young children.  It is therefore, important for mathematics in early years settings to focus upon deepening not accelerating learning.  In teaching for mastery, settings provide time and opportunities for children to make connections in their mathematical understanding.  They are therefore provided with many opportunities throughout the indoor and outdoor environments to develop and deepen their understanding through play.  As well as through discrete teaching sessions led by a practitioner, practitioners engage with children’s mathematics in their play (posing problems, modelling language and helping children to mathematise).

Practitioners provide different contexts for children to explore the same mathematical idea and multiple representations of this idea (including pictorial, informal jottings and mathematics equipment).  For mastery in early years, children are encouraged to communicate their mathematical thinking in a wide variety of ways including through manipulation of resources, gesture, pointing, body language, mark-making and talk.



Mastery-in-Early-Years-Booklet Mastery in Mathematics_EY Booklet


As part of a work group looking at planning for mastery in adult-led sessions, the document below was produced to help early years practitioners make sense of some of the vocabulary being used in key stage one and two in primary schools around Teaching for Mastery.  Some settings also used a planner to support them with planning for big ideas (conceptually big) in adult-led maths sessions.



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