Danielle Lowe

Half of Gympie's five-year-olds struggling with numeracy

A REPORT has revealed more than half of five year olds cannot count to 20 and 13.2% of children in the Gympie region have been classified as educationally vulnerable.

A report into strengthening numeracy learning for children showed 87% of five year olds could count to 10 but only 37% could count to 20.

The figures are from the Australian Early Development Census in 2012.

Across Queensland, 9.1% of children have been classified as vulnerable.

While figures from The Smith Family report showed almost two thirds of five year olds could not count to 20, an early childhood worker said there was a difference between memorising numbers up to 20 and learning about the concept of counting.

Early Childhood Australia chief Samantha Page said some children might not be able to count to 20 at age five but could recognise shapes, numbers and time.

"This is just one of a range of measures," she said.

The Smith Family report also showed only 17% of four year olds could count to 20. But this jumped to 54% following an early childhood mathematics program.

Ms Page said this showed the importance of teaching children from a young age.

"We want to give children the very best start; we want them to have some sort of early learning."

She said there were ways parents could help children's mathematical skills in everyday activities, such as counting apples in the trolley, dividing grapes evenly between siblings and measuring while cooking.

"The fundamental thing is children getting the concept about space, volume, relativity and more or less and higher or lower is what is really important," Ms Page said.

"This is particularly important in Queensland where the proportion of children who are starting school below national benchmarks for language and cognitive development is high."

The early education numeracy report also examined the success of the Let's Count program that began in 2011 in disadvantaged communities and was expanded to more areas.

It assessed students on mathematical areas that are addressed in the first year of school, including counting, measuring and shapes.

The report also showed 66% of children who participated in the program could order three one-digit numbers compared to 47% of non-participants.

AT A GLANCE

Percentage of children vulnerable in the language and cognition domain (including numeracy).

Australia wide average - 6.8%

Queensland state-wide average - 9.1%

Mackay - 9.4%

Rockhampton - 7.9%

Gladstone - 8%

Bundaberg - 11.8%

Fraser Coast: Hervey Bay - 11.3%

Gympie - 13.2%

Sunshine Coast:

Caloundra - 7.4%,

Maroochy - 7.6%,

Noosa - 6.7%

Ipswich - 11.6%

Toowoomba - 12.9%

Warwick - 17.5%

Gympie Times


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