Year 1 Mathematics at school: what to expect

Focus on number

During Year 1 at school, a large part of mathematics teaching time is focused on number learning.

By the end of the year

By the end of the year your child will be meeting the Year 1 mathematics standard if they are solving realistic maths problems using their growing understanding of number, algebra, space, measurement and statistics. They are counting and using objects to solve problems. They maybe recognising patterns and beginning to connect arithmetic (e.g. 4 + 3 = 7) to mathematical situations.

Meeting the standard

These are just some of the skills and knowledge that will help your child reach the standard. Talk to the teacher for more information about your child’s learning.

To meet the standard your child will be learning to:

  • solve problems that use number skills up to 10, then up to 20
  • count forwards and backwards with numbers up to 20, then up to 100, and know the number before and the number after any given number up to 100 or in this range
  • explore patterns, shapes and measurement
  • organise and count collections of objects in different ways, and share objects into equal groups
  • talk about where they are, how they got there and where they are going – ‘I am in front of the tree’, ‘I am behind you’
  • connect events and days of the week
  • pose questions that involve number (e.g. ‘How many do we have? How many chairs do we need?’).

Mathematics problems at this level might look like this

The illustration shows 4 rows of animals.

Row 1: 4 emus

Row 2: 2 koalas

Row 3: 5 wombats

Row 4: 4 kangaroos

Teacher: Here are some animal cards. Please arrange them so someone else can see how many of each animal there are. How many kangaroos are there? Which animal is there the most of?

Student: I sorted the animals into rows. There are 4 kangaroos. When I look at each row and count the animals, I see that there are more wombats than any other animal.

Ask the teacher what your child is doing in mathematics. Talk about how you can work together to support your child’s learning.

Mathematics at home

Being positive about mathematics is really important for your child’s learning – even if you didn’t enjoy it or do well at it yourself at school.

Mathematics, like reading, is a skill that is learnt through practice

Talk together and have fun with numbers and patterns. Help your child to:

  • find numbers around your home and local area – clocks, letterbox numbers, speed signs
  • count forwards and backwards (microwave count-down, fingers and toes, letterbox numbers, counting fingers and toes)
  • make clapping patterns when counting
  • explore different ways to make numbers to 10 using fingers on both hands (e.g. 4 can be shown as 2 and 2, 3 and 1, 4 and 0)
  • connect number to real-life and imaginary stories (e.g. ’You have 2 cats and 2 dogs. I wonder how many animals altogether.’)
  • look at and make use of a calendar (e.g. notice features and number patterns, use and refer to it often).

Involve your child in easy, everyday activities like these

  • Prepare and share out food – ‘one for me and one for you’. Ask, ‘How many for each person? How many pieces in total will we need to feed everyone?’
  • Talk about time – ‘lunchtime’, ‘storytime’, ‘bedtime’.
  • When getting dressed, use words like ‘short’, ‘long’, and ask questions like: ‘What goes on first?’ What goes on next?’ ‘Does it fit?’
  • Ask questions like these: ‘How many snacks do we need for lunch?’ ‘What do you think the weather is going to be like today/ tomorrow?’ ‘What are we going to do next?’

Mathematics is an important part of everyday life and there are many ways you can make it fun for your child.

Use lots of mathematics words while your child is playing (‘over’, ‘under’, ‘first, second, third’, ‘round’, ‘through’, ‘before’, ‘after’). This will develop their understanding of early mathematics. Use the language that works best for you and your child.

For school holidays/weekends/rainy days

Here are some suggestions for what you and your child can do together.

  • Play with water using containers and measuring cups of different shapes and sizes.
  • Cook. Talk to your child about the recipe and ingredients and how much you will need to feed
  • Play shops – decide on a currency system (e.g. leaves, bottle tops, dollars), set up a shop,
    and buy and sell items. Use language like ‘How much is this drawing?’ and ‘Hmmm I wonder
    if I have enough leaves to buy that.’ Practise counting and checking the amount paid.
  • Play games. Play ‘I spy something that is longer, bigger, smaller than ...’ Play pen and paper
    games (e.g. noughts-and-crosses, dots and boxes).
  • Use maths-related words during play like ‘under’, ‘over’, ‘between’, ‘around’, ‘behind’, ‘up’,
    ‘down’, ‘heavy’, ‘light’, ‘round’, ‘circle’, ‘yesterday’, ‘tomorrow’. You can find these words and
    ideas in picture storybooks too. Access these at a local library.
  • Collect all sorts of ‘treasure’ – bottle tops, shells, stones, gumnuts, cardboard shapes, leaves.
    Create or find a box to keep the treasure in. Sort the treasure into different categories and
    notice how many items are in each group.
  • Use maths-related questions during play like ‘How many ...?’ ‘Which is the biggest group?’,
    ‘Which is the smallest?’ ‘How many for each of us?’
  • Play with dominoes, cards and board games, do jigsaw puzzles and build with blocks. Access play materials at a local toy library
  • For further information check out the families section of the Mathematics Hub.

Support your child

Parents, family and carers like you play a big part in your child’s learning every day – you can support and build on what they learn at school.

© Commonwealth of Australia. Adapted from New Zealand Ministry of Education copyright material. images: BERMIX STUDIO, ProStockStudio, gomolach.