Numeracy and Literacy concepts

In their book, Early Childhood Literacy and Numeracy: Building Good Practice (2007), (designed to help educators improve their abilities to develop young children’s numeracy and literacy), Fleer and Raban make some of the following comments about numeracy and literacy (with regards to early childhood):

Before repeating those points, though I think it worth noting that what often gets missed in non-specialist teachers’ minds is that literacy and numeracy is part of a quality science education – science is not separate to these educational areas but can be used to teach them… when thinking about numeracy and literacy concepts, we can also think how these support science education. Anyway, According to Fleer and Raban:

Numeracy Concepts

“When we talk about numeracy concepts we think about more than just number. We think about the broad areas of measurement, about spatial knowledge and the many different aspects of number.” (p.5)

“When we talk about ‘edge’, ‘side’, ‘top’ or ‘bottom’, children are learning about area. Children often don’t think about area. Helping children pay attention to it helps them later on when they will measure these surfaces and make comparisons.” (p.5)

“Children hear words like ‘half’ or ‘quarter’ every day. Having lots of experiences with splitting things into equal amounts helps children understand fractions later at school.” (p.4)

“Using everyday words to describe shapes such as ‘a raindrop’, ‘egg shape’, ‘curved’ and ’round’ are important for helping children understand shape. Over time children will use words such as ‘triangle’, ‘square’ and ‘circle’. These words help children to talk about the shapes in their environment. Noticing and studying shape is important for learning geometry later at school.” (p.6)

In this book, there are very accessible tables of information, such as the one titled ‘Numeracy Concepts’ on p.7, which makes the following points (and elaborates on each within the table):

  • ‘Straight, ‘curved’ and ‘bent’ are about shape
  • ‘Upside down’ is about position and direction
  • ‘Grouping things together’ is about noticing if something is the same or different
  • ‘Big’ and ‘little’ are about measurement
  • ‘Sorting things’ is about classifying
  • ‘1, 2, 3, 4, 5’ is about number patterns
  • ‘Half there! Half over there!’ is about fractions
  • ‘Sharing’ is about division
  • ‘High’ and ‘low’ are measurements
  • ‘Up’, ‘down’ and ‘next to’ are about position
  • ‘Heavy’ and ‘light’ are about mass
  • ‘Full’ and ’empty’ are about measurement
  • Numbers are about ‘how much’, ‘how long’ and ‘how many’
  • ‘Top’ and ‘edge’ are about area

Literacy Concepts

“Children’s language and literacy development take place in everyday activities accompanied by interesting talk with lots of new vocabulary words. Although the development of literacy skills is different from the development of language, it is inter-related.
Literacy is about more than knowing letters and reading some words. In the early stages, we would be looking for evidence of young children showing that they are aware of literacy in their home and in the community in which they live. Do they respond to print material that enters the home like hunk mail, letters and postcards, bills and other advertising materials? Do they respond to shop signs and printed material on cartons and other packaging in the supermarket? Do they know when they pass McDonald’s or the petrol station?
Young children can be responsive to the purposes of different forms of print, for instance, a list for shopping, rules to play a game, a calendar, bank books or Pokemon cards.
They can show their understanding of the linke between what they experience and what they say and what is written down through such activities as telling a story that gets written and ‘read’, following a recipe for making a meal, giving and writing directions for someone to visit, and writing captions to family photographs that can be re-read.” (p.8)

As mentioned above, the tables in this book are really great. The one titled ‘Literacy Concepts’ on p.9 makes the following points (each is elaborated on within the table):

  • Sharing books is about beginning reading (“Turning one page at a time is a fundamental concept for interacting with books and learned very soon with experience and opportunity.”)
  • Playing with rhymes is about learning word and letter sounds
  • Pretend reading is real reading
  • Reading advertising is about thinking critically about print
  • Drawing and scribbling lead to writing
  • Looking at ‘signs’ and ‘logos’ is about reading
  • ‘Telling’ stories is about story structure
  • Playing word games is about learning the patterns of sounds
  • Re-enacting or re-telling a story is about remembering the sequence
  • Writing means the same when it is read as when we wrote it

Ref: Marilyn Fleer and Bridie Raban (2007) Early Childhood Literacy and Numeracy: Building Good Practice. Australian Government, Department of Education, Employment and Workplace Relations: ? [ISBN: 10 1-921162- 10-4]

Again, apparently, there’s a DVD that goes with it… and in her preface, Maxine McKew (Parliamentary Secretary for Early Childhood Education and Child Care) points to the resources available at


About backyardbooks

This blog is a kind of electronic storage locker for ideas and quotes that inform my research... literary research into fiction for young adults (with a special focus on New Zealand fiction). Kiwis are producing amazing literature for younger readers, but it isn't getting the academic appreciation it deserves. I hope readers of this blog can make use of the material I gather and share by way of promoting our fiction. Cheers!
This entry was posted in Multiliteracies, Science education, scientific literacy, Understanding literacy, Understanding numeracy and tagged , , , , , , , . Bookmark the permalink.

One Response to Numeracy and Literacy concepts

  1. roylcoblog says:

    Very informative!

Leave a Reply

Fill in your details below or click an icon to log in: Logo

You are commenting using your account. Log Out /  Change )

Google+ photo

You are commenting using your Google+ account. Log Out /  Change )

Twitter picture

You are commenting using your Twitter account. Log Out /  Change )

Facebook photo

You are commenting using your Facebook account. Log Out /  Change )


Connecting to %s