CASE STUDY : NATURE TRAILS DAY NURSERY
Vicky Stancer, deputy manager at Nature Trails Day Nursery in Warwickshire, was one of two project leaders for Maths Champions at the setting. She signed the nursery up to the scheme because ‘staff confidence in maths was through the floor. They could all do the basics but they didn’t want to explain it to parents or really get into it.’
Ms Stancer says reluctance to engage with maths is due to a deeprooted fear that can be difficult to overcome for practitioners. ‘It’s because it’s called “maths”,’ she says. ‘There’s a stigma attached to the word. I think it stems back to school and having to get a GCSE in it. If it was just called “number” or “shape”, people would be less fearful of it. ‘I understand it needs to be called that in schools, but in early years it’s about so much more than just what we think of as “maths”. It’s things like playing “stop and go” on a tricycle, or using positional language like “under” and “over”. Staff think that’s maths.’
Practitioners used group discussions, the NDNA’s online resources and ideas from other nurseries shared via webinars to develop their own activities and a resource pack to be used by anyone in the setting. They also produced information leaflets to explain the programme to parents and provide them with ideas for maths activities to do with children at home. The project has helped members of staff to see maths in unexpected places.
Ms Stancer explains, ‘They’ve realised there can be elements of maths in activities where there doesn’t seem to be any. The maths boxes on our planning sheets are never empty any more. Everyone’s confidence has really soared; it’s been such a positive experience. Our younger, more newly-qualified members of staff especially have absolutely blossomed. Seeing that evolve has been amazing.’ With 12 members of staff participating in the project, Ms Stancer says there will now be a practitioner in every room at all times who will ‘have their “maths hat” on’. She adds, ‘Sometimes these things peter out, but because there are so many of us I think it will be easier to keep it going. The staff have really taken responsibility for it and I think it will be something that can continue through the whole nursery.’ Ms Stancer will talk at the NDNA conference later this year about the nursery’s participation in the project, and Nature Trails Day Nursery has registered to take part in the NDNA’s English Champions programme later this month.