Numeracy: The Ultimate Maths Guide

Numeracy skills are integral foundations for children to participate in daily functioning. (Source: Eduprints Plus)

Numeracy is an important skill for every child to learn. Teaching children these skills at an early age gives them the ability to perfect their sums and equations that help in everyday life. Integral to life events and the ability to perform particular tasks, that can be useful as children become adults. When teaching numeracy, try to start with a question and allow children to use their imagination and creativity to come up with a solution to the problem. Numeracy is an important part of education that does more than just teach children about numbers. LearningMole’s numeracy guide will make homeschooling easier, as we delve deeper into basic mathematical concepts and operations, and learn how to utilise them correctly. 

What is Numeracy? 

Before delving into mathematical concepts and operations it’s important to understand what numeracy is. Numeracy is the integration of these abstract mathematical concepts into daily functioning and being able to utilise these skills to help with decision making. Numeracy involves a host of skills that include solving problems; interpreting data which can include things like graphs and diagrams; understanding and explaining solutions, and processing this information; checking answers; and making logical decisions based on reason. Delivering lessons and teaching your children effective numeracy skills and strategies gives them the confidence to apply these skills to other subjects and daily life. Numeracy is integral for children to find solutions, and learning patterns and sequences. There are an array of activities that encourage children to participate in numeracy that challenge and stimulate their young, active minds. 

Why is Numeracy Important? 

There are multiple ways that numeracy is integral to your child’s learning experience. Numeracy isn’t simply numbering but aids us in understanding the importance of numbers in daily functions. Numeracy skills allow us to recognise shapes and use them correctly as well. Understanding graphs and charts may seem rudimentary, but these give necessary lessons in how to interpret data which we will receive from multiple sources including the media. Numeracy is essential to daily life and helps with tasks like baking, reading maps and timetables, telling the time, and more. Learning these basic skills gives children an important head start in daily functions. 

Numeracy also helps with career prospects in your children’s future. Employers hold numeracy skills in high regard as they feature in some of the most demanding sectors in the world. Naturally, building a foundation of numeracy skills provides children with the ability to tackle more complex mathematical problems as they grow older. Studies assert that children who have benefited from numeracy skills at an early age are more likely to have higher levels of health and well being. These skills also aid with financial literacy and lead to independence and decision-making skills. Being financially literate allows for better opportunities at work and at home. Learning these vital life skills can aid with everyday tasks, but it is important to introduce these skills during early childhood as brain development is occurring and children enjoy being mentally stimulated. 

Numeracy Activities

There are plenty of activities that take the numeracy and make it an exciting and entertaining prospect for children. Counting is probably the first numeracy step that you will take with children. Aiding children to recognise and count numbers even as simply as one to ten is important, as it gives children a foundation from which they will build their numeracy skills. Being able to take some abstract concepts like numbers and utilise them in daily life. Counting can be encouraged by using everyday objects that your child is familiar with. This could be their teddies or building blocks, the biscuits they eat, even their fingers can serve to help with counting. 

Counting is a skill that can be taught through numerous numeracy activities. A full-proof way of engaging children with counting is using songs. Singing songs like ‘Ten Green Bottles’ is a great way of helping children count in a fun and dynamic way. Numeracy and music are intrinsically linked, and this is a great way to hone their mathematical skills. Reading texts that are connected to counting is great as well. One popular book that is used to support number learning is ‘The Very Hungry Caterpillar’. Learning through play is another great way of doing this. Using board games like snakes and ladders or even something as simple as rolling dice is a great way of introducing the concept of counting as well. These also aid with number recognition. 

the very hungry caterpillar
Using books like ‘The Very Hungry Caterpillar’ can aid children with their numeracy skills in a fun way. (Source: Lars Plougmann)

Sorting is an important part of numeracy. This is a part of classification that helps children match and sort objects and things through things like colours, shapes, and/or sizes. This may seem rather basic, but these skills are integral for aiding children to develop logical thinking skills and making sense of particular things in the world. There are lots of numeracy activities that aid with these things. Setting up activities that aid with teaching children the concept of sorting is a very easy activity. You can use objects or toys that are already in your house to aid with sorting. On a very fundamental level, even letting children sort their crayons by colour, getting their blocks sorted by size, their toys by their shapes, and so on are great ways of introducing the concept of sorting to them. This can also be a great way to encourage children with tidying away and helping them notice things in nature – like litter that shouldn’t be there. This encourages children to think about ecology as well and the world they live in. 

One of the major numeracy skills that can be delivered is recognising patterns. Being able to recognise patterns and sequences is one of the most important things you can do for a child as it helps them with notice correlations in daily life. There are plenty of learning experiences that provide fun activities for children engaging with patterns that help in the two major categories of sequences – finding patterns and creating patterns. Helping children find patterns could be done on objects like clothes or in pictures. Going through these patterns in terms of colours, shapes, and particular sequences is a great way to get them to engage with the material.

Letting children make patterns is another fun way of involving them with pattern work. Children will begin to recognise patterns in things like music via clapping sequences or beats, they could do a variety of physical activities like circuits that rely on patterns to work. They could also use Lego boards to create patterns or use other materials to create beautiful patterns for them to work with. Learning patterns and sequences can be integral to numeracy skills. 

Identifying patterns isn’t the only useful numeracy skill. Being able to identify shapes is also equally important. Making sure your child can identify basic shapes is a great way of setting them up for beginning their primary education. Knowing what a square, circle, rectangle, and triangle is is an important beginning to numeracy skills and one that can quite literally shape interactions with maths. There are plenty of numeracy activities that can encourage children to recognise shapes in the world. Looking at things like the wheels on their cars or trucks, recognising they’re circles are a great way of encouraging them to look for different shapes. Their books are squares is another example of encouraging and supporting shape recognition. 

Finally, measuring and comparing is an important numeracy skill to instil in children. Noticing how heavy or small something is is important, and being able to make comparisons can influence everyday life. For example, knowing whether they can lift a box or need help carrying it is a way we all use measuring and comparisons. There are lots of ways of introducing this information in a fun and dynamic way. Using activities like cooking is a great way of introducing measuring, as they can follow a simple recipe to create something delicious. Helping them measure things out is a great way of helping them engage with their material.

There are plenty of methods for measuring as well that could include measuring a table with a measuring tape or seeing how large your driveway is by using steps. Building towers is another great way of helping children understand height. Getting them to measure different heights is a great way of them doing something creative and constructive like building towers while also getting information from it. Volume is another way of measuring which can be done by filling lots of different objects with water. 

measuring tape numeracy skills
There are plenty of opportunities to utilise different materials to teach numeracy. Measuring objects helps children understand numbers and applies everyday scenarios to the numbers. (Source: Sean MacEntee)

Maths Resources for Kids

Teaching numeracy skills requires things to aid with this instruction. Being well equipped for a lesson is one of the most important things possible and being able to engage with children in a fun and dynamic way allows for your information to be retained. Sometimes, maths resources can be expensive, but it doesn’t have to be that way. There are plenty of materials to encourage children to learn as well as making it a creative project by building your own maths resources together. There are plenty of fun activities that you can do to build maths resources that can aid with your homeschool environment. 

When children help in creating their own games, it gives them a sense of achievement and it can also help them with their numeracy skills in the process. One fun resource to make is a paper maths resource. To do this, you need to fold the paper in a specific way so that you end up with a particular shape. This allows you to put your fingers into the paper to manipulate to teach patterns or rhythms. Making these paper pockets is necessary for the game to be played. The first layer functions as numbers from which your child can choose. You move the paper by counting the number that your child has chosen by moving your fingers. From here, there should be a question written in the second layer for your child to answer. Finally, you unfold the answer under the chosen question to know if the answer given was correct or not.

This is a hands-on activity that can help with counting. Here, you can ask your child questions and let them take charge of their own learning process. This is a great way of encouraging children to be active with their own education as they choose their own numbers and not realise that they are in a more formal space of learning. This type of structured learning is known as learning through play. This is a great way of introducing children to mathematical concepts in a creative and conducive way to their learning. These types of resources don’t simply have to involve things like counting but can be used to demonstrate addition, subtraction, multiplication, and division. 

There are plenty of materials you can use to teach your child maths through homemade resources or objects that you own around your home. Using colouring pencils, building blocks, and teddies can be useful for multiple math activities, as can fruit and vegetables if you don’t mind things being a little messy. Fractions can be taught with paper plates. Number recognition with paint bags. There are a plethora of opportunities to create math resources from things that are around your house. Numeracy skills can be built with these familiar objects whilst also removing the abstract nature of what a number is. Maths resources that are made at home are a great way to get your children to interact with the lesson material, learning numeracy skills while also participating in creative enrichment activities.

Tools to Help with Addition and Subtraction 

Addition and subtraction are the natural numeracy skills a child learns after counting, and there are plenty of math resources that make this task easier to manage. Using resources makes a boring situation of traditional addition and subtraction learning into an exciting event for your child to be involved with. From numbers lines to magnetic numbers, there are many effective tools and methods to aid strategies for your child’s learning experiences. Maths resources are an important addition to learning numeracy and are effective in helping children learn addition and subtraction in a memorable and exciting way.

One resource that is particularly useful is a black number line. A number line eases the learning process of addition and subtraction as it becomes particularly easy to jump from one number to another. This, in turn, makes calculating much easier for a child to do. Along with a number line, this is a great way to practice number recognition as you can get your child to write the numbers down from the line to make these calculations easier. The number line is multipurpose as it can be utilised for addition and subtraction. 

Another fabulous way to encourage children with the operations of addition and subtraction is using magnetic numbers. Magnetic numbers are something that children love to play with regardless, and they are a great way for them to achieve number recognition. There are a variety of other methods that can be explored using magnetic numbers though. They can be used to demonstrate particular equations or they can work answers to equations you have asked using the magnetic numbers to communicate the solution to you. Magnetic numbers are a fun, safe tool that aid with numeracy, making it a more dynamic and entertaining learning experience.

Utilising number cards to help children learn addition and subtraction is a great way of engaging children in these fundamental, mathematical operations. They are a popular and well-used tool that can be made at home no matter how crafty you may be. You can cut out cards and place numbers on them, then place them in a card box where they can be easily removed from the space. You can use these cards to form an equation and then write the numbers down. This is a fun way of mixing up their learning as the children can draw out multiple different digits to practice their equations on. 

A popular method to deliver educational advantages in addition and subtraction is a very basic one – hands and fingers. This age-old method is used by young and old to help with addition and subtraction. This is also something that they are, naturally familiar with, and using their hands to count makes it an easier concept to grasp as they can, quite literally, make numbers with their bodies. Getting children to count one by one is a great way of encouraging them to think and physically see how numbers come together. 

One great way of encouraging addition and subtraction is simply using a handheld whiteboard. Children will be familiar with their own whiteboards in the classroom, but these provide a fun and exciting way for children to become physically involved with their own education. They are portable and can be taken anywhere meaning that numeracy skills can be observed no matter where you are. They can write and solve the equations for the numbers that you give them. This allows them to practice these operations and give them more confidence in their numeracy skills. 

There are plenty of strategies and tools that can be used to deliver mathematical strategies to help with operations like addition and subtraction. Using these can ignite a passion for learning for children and provide them with useful ways of dealing with difficult equations and sums. These will eventually help with more complex operations that require a foundational knowledge in addition and subtraction. Mathematical tools can be used to deliver information in a fun and dynamic way while providing children with the devices they need to perform mathematical calculations and tasks.

Helping with Addition 

Addition is one of the first mathematical operations you will learn as a child once you have mastered counting. Delivering different math strategies to help children with mathematical operations gives them the tools to be able to deal with more complex sums and problems as they grow older. One excellent example to teach your children is for them to take the larger number and keep it in mind while they use the smaller numbers to count with using their fingers or even a number line. This is known as reordering. Reordering helps children deal with larger numbers in a more manageable way.

Reordering can be made even easier using number lines. Simply get a whiteboard and draw a solid line on it. Start with the bigger number in the reordering scheme and then use the number line to deal with the smaller numbers that are available. The number line allows for smaller numbers, mostly in the ranges of one to six, and allows children to do equations without getting lost in the middle. This is an effective tool for children who are starting their mathematics journey as it is a simple and attractive way of dealing with small number additions. Numeracy skills can be vastly improved using solutions like number lines. 

If a child is around the Key Stage One age and they’re beginning their relationship with addition, this is one of the best solutions to helping with the process of addition. Creating blank number lines accompanied withholding the larger number in their heads helps children visual the numbers and the equations in the process. Using these effectively allows for children to eventually use mental maths to work out these sums, and to deal with more complex problems in time. Number lines can help children with counting smaller numbers and introduces them to the idea of equations. They’re effective for solving simple equations and helping children with their numeracy skills.

Equations and Sums: Addition and Subtraction


After learning addition, the natural step is to introduce subtraction into the mix. There are plenty of activities for children to do that involve addition and subtraction. One great way of practising this numeracy activity is using the traditional game noughts and crosses or, as it is known in many countries, Tic-Tac-Toe. Once you have explained to your child how this works, you will be able to play the game by making a grid on a whiteboard or with paper. You can then do equations and place an X or an O in each part of the grid once you get the answer correct. Make sure your children double-check their answers. Encourage them to use other math vocabularies as well, such as plus for addition and takeaway for subtraction. 

Subtraction is considered a little more tricky but there are plenty of solutions to teach math lessons to children and to give them confidence in their numeracy skills. Lego is a great way of teaching children how to add and subtract. It’s also an item that is present in many children’s toy boxes. Whether using this to teach children to add or subtract, take the blocks and use them to build towers or set aside blocks with the children to see how they learn these mathematical operations. Another way of teaching subtraction is using things like sweets or fruits like strawberries. Reward your child with telling them they can have some of these tasty treats if they’re able to answer the equations that you have given them using these items. Addition and subtraction are some of the fundamental numeracy skills that children need to learn in order to deal with more complex problems as they grow older.

Multiplication for Kids

One of the more complex numeracy skills, multiplication plays an important part in everyday life and is crucial for children understanding more complex mathematical concepts. There are plenty of multiplication activities and games that make learning this math operation fun and dynamic. One option of teaching children multiplication is using a game known as the ‘Fizz Buzz’ game. First, allow your child to pick two numbers that they want to use as their times’ tables example. This could be the four times tables or the three times tables, something to that effect. One number will be attached to the word fizz and the other to the word buzz. Then, read out the numbers from a grid. When one number belongs to a particular number, you can say ‘Fizz’, when another number is attached to your second number, you can say ‘buzz’. If the two numbers are connected to the number that appears on the grid, then you can say ‘fizz buzz’. This is a great way of ensuring that your children have fully understood the content and whether they can notice patterns in their numbers. 

Another great way of encouraging children with times tables are playing times tables aerobics. This is a great way of energising children away from the desk and getting them moving while learning. This is a great tool to use in outdoor learning or inside. Choose the times tables that you wish to explore. From there, choose an exercise that corresponds to these particular numbers. You can shout out numbers and get your children to do an array of exercises. This helps with their cognitive functioning and helps them develop an understanding of the times tables – an incredibly valuable numeracy skill. 

Division for Kids

Once the principle of multiplication is understood, moving to the mathematical operation of division is the next logical step. Division can be difficult but it explains how numbers can be separated into equal parts or groups. There are lots of different methods to deliver division like chunking, short division, and long division. Chunking is used to divide larger numbers that are more difficult to divide mentally. It is simply done by repeatedly subtracting the divisor from the dividend. You could take the sum of 12 ÷ 4. This could be solved by doing the equations 12 – 4 which is equal to 8. 8 – 4 is equal to 4. 4 minus 4 is equal to 0. When all of the times 4 has been subtracted from 12 are added up, we find that the final answer is 4. 

Short division is a numeracy skill that is a very quick and efficient way to deal with the division of larger numbers. There are a series of easy steps that make short division a popular choice for those engaging in subtraction. After your child becomes comfortable with chunking, they will move onto short division as it can be used to solve a division problem with a very large dividend by following a series of easy steps. If we took a number like 96 and worked out how to divide it by four using short division, there is a simple way of explaining it. 4 goes into 9 twice but leaves a remainder of one. You carry this over to the 6, so this number now becomes 16. 16 divided by 4 equals 4 which means the answer is 24. Long division is a very similar process to short division, it’s only differences are the sizes of the numbers. The number you are dividing against is a three-digit number and its usually being divided into a two-digit number.

Fractions for Kids

One of the most difficult numeracy skills to transfer to a child is fractions. Fractions are essentially used to represent smaller parts of a whole. These different parts may make up an object or thing, they might even be more than one thing. Regardless, all of the parts combined make a whole. There are different parts to a fraction that are rather useful to know. The number above the bar is known as the numerator. The denominator is the number below the bar, and vinculum is the bar separating the two numbers. There are also different types of fractions. For example, a unit fraction has 1 as its numerator and has a whole number on the bottom as its denominator. A non-unit fraction is like an upside down version of a unit fraction; only the numerator will have a number greater than the denominator.

Using objects to visually represent fractions is a great way of helping students and children engage with these objects and pictures that they see. For example, you could make a pizza out of a paper plate and separate them into different slices. From here, you are able to teach your child what three-quarters of the pizza looks like, what a half or a quarter looks like. This gives children a physical representation of their fractions and makes using them a much easier task.