How much numeracy should a child know before starting school?

It’s that time of year where lots of parents will be thinking about getting their children ready for starting school. One of the questions that comes up a lot is how much numeracy should your child know before entering their schooling career?

This is a topic that seems to have many conflicting views. You don’t want to teach a child a totally different way of learning to how they will actually be taught in the classroom. However, they also need to know enough so that they have the best advantage of hitting the ground running when they do start.

Introducing Maths into children’s playing would be the best place to start. Playtime is a crucial part of their learning as it helps to develop their language and motor skills. Young children can develop their logical thinking skills when solving puzzles and sorting objects.

Interesting Fact – Psychology research suggests that infants start to process numbers, at a very basic level, before they can even speak!

So, what should they know?

  • Counting

Get your child to count everything from the steps to the supermarket to how many peas are left on their plate. It’s also useful if a child can count in 2s, 5s and 10s as well.

  • More or Less

It’s important that a child starts to develop their logic and estimation skills. One way of doing this is learning what the difference is between different groups. For example, teach them that having 5 sweets is more than having 2 sweets.

  • Basic addition and subtraction

You’re little one doesn’t need to be an expert, but it does help if your child can add and subtract up to at least 10. This makes starting school that little bit easier as they have more of a handle on what they are learning.

  • Identify shapes and patterns

This helps a child to make connections and predications about the order of things and to come to logical conclusions without even realising it.

  • Identify numbers

Draw out different numbers and run through what they are called so that your child can match the name with what the number looks like.

  • Be positive and encourage a healthy mindset towards Maths

When children are young they are more likely to pick up on things that you say so make sure that you stay away from phrases like ‘I was never very good at Maths’. Certain aspects of Maths might be quite difficult for a child to grasp so make sure you change it up often to keep them motivated with their learning.


Learning Maths is like learning a sport or musical instrument – practice makes perfect! Use everyday examples, such as shopping and counting, so that your child can see the benefits of learning Maths.

What do you think is the most important concept that a child should know before starting school?

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