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Mathematics learning is developmental which means concepts and skills are built on each other. The problem that many students and adults have is that they miss important concepts at an earlier stage which is why they struggle later in life. At Madeley Primary School, with the help of Dr Paul Swan, we seek to support parents to lay a foundation of mathematical learning.


The process of immediately recognising how many items are in a small group is called subitising. This name comes from the Italian word subito, which means "immediately" or "right now". When playing a game with dice we normally recognise the number of dots immediately. The ability to subitise is essential for later learning in mathematics. The video at this link gives a brief outline of the importance of subitising.

Parents can help their children learn to subitise by playing dice games (using dice with dots), domino games and card games. There are numerous ideas for how to play subitising games on the web (just google it).

The Language of Mathematics

Many children struggle with problem solving because they do not understand the vocabulary of mathematics. For example, there is specific language associated with comparisons in measurement. We often assume that children just know the correct words but this is not usually the case. This poster is taken from Mrs Vissers class where students are learning the comparative language of measurement.

Parents can support their children's learning by asking them questions that require children to use and learn some of these common words in a meaningful way. For example, when measuring how tall your child is ask 'who is taller', 'who is tallest'? When cooking with different pots ask 'which is deepest?', 'is your pot shallower?'

Simple but regular conversations using mathematical language will help your child to learn.