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Get pre-school kids counting, say parents

25 August 2015

According to new research nearly three-quarters (70%) of parents in the UK think their children should begin learning basic numeracy skills before starting primary school.

The research, conducted by Clydesdale and Yorkshire Banks, surveyed 1,500 parents of children aged three to five across the UK and looked at attitudes towards numeracy and methods by which it can be introduced before they start school.

Of those surveyed, although three-quarters (71%) felt confident in introducing their children to numeracy prior to them starting school, around half (45%) stated they would benefit from more help and advice in order to be able to do so.

One method by which adults can engage pre-school children with mathematics is through educational websites and interactive games by using tablets and smartphones. However, 41% of those surveyed were unaware educational apps existed. Of the half (49%) of parents whose children had engaged with an educational resource either on a website or tablet, nearly all (90%) said their children had benefited from it.

Some of the key benefits of having numeracy skills at a young age cited by parents included:

  • Having an understanding of personal finances at an earlier age
  • Being able to undertake everyday tasks such as telling the time
  • Helping develop problem solving skills at an early stage

The findings follow research published by the Institute of Fiscal Studies which found children who have strong maths skills by the age of ten are likely to earn significantly more money in their 30s than those who don’t.*

The Bank’s research coincides with the UK-wide launch of ‘Count Me In 123’, a numeracy programme to help engage pre-school children with basic mathematics to prepare them for their school lives. Since launching in Glasgow and Leeds more than 10 years ago, the programme has helped thousands of children learn about numeracy through the cities’ library networks.

Margaret Houston, Principal librarian (Children and Young People) at Glasgow Life, said:

“The Count Me In 123 programme has seen hundreds of Glasgow’s pre-school children get to grips with numbers since launching 10 years ago. We’ve had extremely positive feedback since then and the new app and online resources, alongside the existing programme, will go a long way to encouraging even more parents to get involved with teaching children basic numeracy in preparation for starting school.”

The latest drive will see parents and guardians, nurseries and libraries across the UK, gain free access to a new range of educational resources including activity worksheets and a ‘Count Me In 123’ interactive website and tablet app.

Helen Page, Customer Experience, Products and Marketing Director at Clydesdale Bank, said: “It’s clear from the research parents think it’s important their children have a grasp of numeracy before starting school, however, many are unsure where to look to get started. The Count Me In 123 programme aims to help those parents by providing them with engaging and fun materials to teach their children.”

“Studies show the positive long-term impact a good grasp of mathematics can have in terms of future earning potential and we feel that introducing numeracy to children before they start school will help lay a strong foundation as they take their first steps into primary education.”

The ‘Count Me In 123’ app is available for free for parents and guardians to download on Apple and Android tablets, and allows pre-school children to learn numeracy skills via interactive games they can play themselves or with a guardian.

For more information and to access the ‘Count Me In 123’ resources, please visit:

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