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Mathematics- how to support your child at home.

The skill of subitising

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This child can subitise up to 6. This is a skill your child will need to access mathematics in KS1 and KS2. NOTICE, HE DOES NOT COUNT THE DOTS, HE JUST LOOKS AND KNOWS. In EYFS, children only need to know how to subitise to 5.

Research document of child's learning in mathematics


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This child can do something called ‘subitising.’ She can confidently subitise up to 3 objects. This is when a person can look at a few objects and know how many are there without counting each one. As adults, we use this skill when we look at things because it saves cognitive space in our working memory, freeing cognitive space for something else. A quick way of checking this is to use a spotted dice or dominoes with your child. This skill is needed in KS1, KS2 and KS3.


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This child can touch count with her feet and match the amount with the corresponding symbol. Touch counting is an important skill and is NOT the same thing as rote counting. Touch counting is linked to cardinality, which is knowing the last number you touch is how many are in that set.


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This child is demonstrating correct touch counting. Notice how he goes back when he loses his place. This is self correcting and is necessary for learning independently in KS1 and 2.

Practical things you can do to help your child.


Instill number, or what scientists call 'numerosity', in your child, use mathematical vocabulary in day to day chats with your child.

Instead of saying 'Clear the cups off the table to make more room' say 'Clear the 3 cups off the table to make more area.'

When climbing up and down stairs, count the stairs. This teaches number sequencing, and if you ask at the end, 'how many steps?' it also teaches how many things in a set (cardinality).

When putting shopping away, say 'put the 2 tins of cat food on the bottom shelf next to the cat biscuits.' This will teach cardinality and positional language.  Children often struggle with 'in front of' and 'behind.'

Look for numbers whilst out and about. 'How many people in the car?' 'How many aeroplanes in the sky?'