Mathematics in early childhood - the early years maths curriculum in the UK and children's numerical development

Penny Munn

Research output: Contribution to journalArticle

5 Citations (Scopus)


The recent development of the British early years (3-5 years) maths curriculum is described as a function of successive educational reforms aimed at the primary school curriculum in general and the primary maths curriculum (5-12 years) in particular. Contradictions within this curriculum development process are explained in terms of current curriculum theory. Young children's experience of the British primary maths curriculum is illustrated with data from a longitudinal study of early maths concepts from 5 to 8 years of age. Case study data show how normative assumptions embedded in the curriculum make teachers' work unnecessarily difficult, and deprive children of satisfying learning experiences in mathematics. It is argued that an efficiently implemented early years maths curriculum (from 3-8 years) would take young children's developmental characteristics into account, and would stress cross-curricular themes and indirect teaching of concepts.
Original languageEnglish
Pages (from-to)99-111
Number of pages12
JournalInternational Journal of Early Childhood
Issue number1
Publication statusPublished - 2006


  • maths curriculum
  • ealy years
  • numeracy
  • primary schools
  • curriculum development
  • early education

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