A REAL approach to maths

Research has shown that a strong early home learning environment is closely linked to better mathematics attainment at age eleven.

We had already developed Making it REAL using the ORIM (Opportunities, Recognition, Interaction, Model) framework developed by Professors Cathy Nutbrown and Peter Hannon to engage parents in their children’s early literacy through a series of home visits and literary events with teachers and practitioners.  

Some local authorities with whom we were working had begun to explore ideas for applying this to maths.  Encouraged by their developments, and evidence of need, we set up and ran Making Maths REAL; an innovative project to explore whether the approach to early literacy we developed in Making it REAL could be applied to maths.

What is the Making Maths REAL project?

The Making Maths REAL project was developed as part of the innovations strand of DfE funding for Making it REAL literacy work.  Our initial review of research found that supporting children’s early mathematics at home, as part of a strong early home learning environment, can be linked to future success in mathematics.  We then developed a framework with a pilot group of settings, with the support and endorsement of Professors Cathy Nutbrown and Peter Hannon. The purpose of this pilot study was to see how the ORIM framework could be applied to the three areas of maths that children utilise in their everyday lives:  Environmental Maths, Everyday Maths and Stories, Songs and Rhymes.   

Practitioners then took the practical examples we developed and introduced them to children and families in their early years settings.  Parents responded really well to the idea that mathematics can be developed through ordinary, everyday activities that you can do at home, without needing to buy expensive toys or special equipment.  

Our report, Making Maths REAL, looks at how parents can use the ORIM framework to support their children's learning and development in maths. It also includes resources and ideas for practitioners to use with children and parents and is recommended to anyone who has attended Making it REAL training.

We’ve also evaluated the impact of this work on children, parents and practitioners in our report Making Maths REAL Year Two. 

Download the full report. 

Following the success of this approach we offer training ‘A REAL approach to Maths’ using the ideas and framework from the Making Maths REAL project.

What is different about this training?

A REAL approach to Maths is an evidence-based approach, built on research around the importance of parents as children’s first and most enduring educators.  It builds knowledge, skills and confidence in early years practitioners to carry out work with parents, so that they can support their child’s early mathematical development at home. The ORIM framework and strands of mathematics offer a clear framework for both parents and practitioners, describing the different ways in which parents can support their child’s mathematical development.   The activities and materials explored within the training offer practitioners ideas and approaches to develop their practice within the setting and in their work with families.

A REAL approach to Maths is a one day training, offered to groups of up to 20 participants and facilitated by one of NCB’s expert early years associate trainers.


£2,500 + VAT for 20 participants, delivered face-to-face. 

Please contact us for information about live online options [email protected]