Mathematical literacy tips in early childhood education

Many people believe that literacy occurs only with Portuguese. However, this is not true. There is also mathematical literacy in early childhood education.

The knowledge base is built during early childhood. What the child learns at this stage will be carried throughout his life. So it is important to have a good foundation. This is the role of the teacher and also of the family.

We know that mathematics is fundamental in our daily lives. Whether we go to the supermarket and calculate spending on purchases or in more complex situations, how to decide if it is worth financing that property.

It turns out that most Brazilians feel blocked when trying to perform a simple calculation. A lot due to the traumas caused since the first years of school, in which the classes do not represent practical situations of the students’ daily lives.

Proof of this is that, according to data from the last National Literacy Assessment ( ANA ), held in 2016, more than 50% of children, up to 8 years old, did not acquire the knowledge appropriate for their age in Mathematics.

In addition to memorizing numbers and calculations, mathematics teaching should develop, in a fun way and with practical examples, spontaneous learning in students.

The changes brought about by the National Common Curricular Base (BNCC) exactly reflect the above. Bringing up the need for renewal of mathematics classes.

It is necessary to develop, in students, criticality, logical reasoning and the ability to solve problems in their daily lives, safely and lightly.

Mathematical literacy in early childhood education

In early childhood education, learning is stimulated through play. Through playfulness it is possible to hold the attention of children , since, at this stage, they disperse a lot.

However, when planning classes, the teacher needs to be careful not to lose sight of the pedagogical strategies. The games, involving mathematical literacy, should have the purpose of developing in the child:

  • Pleasure in learning;
  • Active participation in classes;
  • Attention;
  • Imagination;
  • Knowledge of numbers;
  • Score;
  • Memorization;
  • Notion of space, measures and shapes;
  • Self-confidence to solve problems and challenges;
  • Among others.


Another point that is important to consider, when planning classes, is the association of content with the students’ experience. In fact, this should be your starting point. This is how the child will learn more easily. This will result in a solid learning base .

Regardless of the age of the children, games are great for associating theory with practice in a fun way. Especially when we talk about  mathematical literacy .

As they bring problems to be solved, the games instigate investigation, creation of strategies and search for solutions. This contributes to the development of skills such as, understanding, logical reasoning, pleasure of discovery, overcoming challenges and, consequently, clarifying concepts of Mathematics in a light and relaxed way.

However, it is important to remember that games, like other types of games, should not be understood as mere leisure tools.

Therefore, we prepare mathematical literacy tips in Early Childhood Education, combining both playful and didactic intentionality. Continue reading below.

For children from 0 to 3 years old

In the first years of a child’s life, his spatial notion, as well as his logical and strategic reasoning, are developed, among other skills.

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When they start to crawl or take their first steps, they are, naturally, being inserted in the universe of Mathematics. Literacy, in this phase, happens little by little and through subtle actions.

These are some ideas (link with text: 5 ideas to use in literacy activities) of games and games for students between 0 to 3 years old:

  • Play with docking or stacking pieces;
  • Build a mural with the date of birth, weight and size of each child;
  • Playing make-believe (posing as a detective, scientist, doctor, etc.).


For children aged 4 to 5 years

Mathematics literacy for children between 4 and 5 years is generally divided into: numbers and numbering system; quantities and measures; shapes and space.

See, below, what is worked on in each of these steps, as well as ideas to apply in your classes.

Numbers and numbering system

It is the learning of counting, writing and numerical notation. In addition, it is at this point that the ability to solve problems through mathematical operations develops.

The teaching of numbers and the numbering system can take place through:

  • Games that involve oral counting, such as hide and seek;
  • Songs with lyrics that speak of numbers and mathematical operations;
  • Among others.


Quantities and measures

By being able to understand that one toy is heavier than another or which one is closer, the child is developing notions of magnitudes and measures.

To encourage this type of perception, you can teach children to:

  • Measure colleagues and compare the results of each one;
  • Differentiate hot food from cold food;
  • Explain the difference between a full glass and an empty one;
  • Among others.

Shapes and space

It is at this stage that children begin to identify and distinguish objects, figures, contours and landmarks.

In this learning phase, use materials of different shapes and textures in class. Ask them to make drawings with, for example, modeling clay, sand or clay.

Another idea is to ask them to build models. This activity will contribute to the development of skills, such as: notion of dimension and depth.


by Abdullah Sam
I’m a teacher, researcher and writer. I write about study subjects to improve the learning of college and university students. I write top Quality study notes Mostly, Tech, Games, Education, And Solutions/Tips and Tricks. I am a person who helps students to acquire knowledge, competence or virtue.

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