How learning develops in young children... | Portsmouth High School

How learning develops in young children…

Last week I attended presentations on EYFS assessment with Mrs Alex Algieri. It was a good opportunity for us to discuss pre-school and reception learning, how we track our girls through their formative years and beyond into pre-prep and prep years.

Mrs Algieri is an expert in her field and our conversation inevitably gravitated towards child development. The stages that children advance through can be well defined with mathematics as an example.

Recognising numbers is the first challenge. Unlike in some languages the arbitrary symbols we use for our numbers bear no resemblance to the things that they represent. We have to commit the written shape to our long term memory and then begin to understand how it relates to counting.


When counting is established in a linear fashion the next stage is one to one correspondence. This is where items can be counted that are not on a line. For example the amount of spots on the back of a ladybird or the counters scattered on a table. Once secure the children can gain the ability to use subitising. As such they will be able to see that there are up to six dots or counters without having to count them. As adults we all have this skill and it allows us to sort into groups and divide up amounts quickly.

These developments are all happening at different speeds in individual children alongside all of the other aspects of their lives. Similar things are happening to every one of us all of the time, it is just that amongst the very young the educational leaps seem so much greater.