Understanding educator attitudes towards and perceptions of mathematics in early childhood

Kelly Johnston*, Rebecca Bull

*Corresponding author for this work

Research output: Contribution to journalArticlepeer-review

1 Citation (Scopus)


The first 3 years of life are identified as a period where children are primed for mathematical thinking, and a time where significant and critical development occurs. Additionally, mathematical ability in the years before children start school serves as a strong predictor of later achievement. However, many early childhood educators do not recognise the relevance of focussing on numeracy with very young children, and there remains a paucity of research on mathematical thinking and learning with infant and toddler aged children. This study sought to investigate early childhood educators’ perspectives on mathematics for children birth to 5 years of age. Educators were invited to complete an online survey and a mixed methods approach was used to interpret the responses. The findings revealed that even though mathematics was seen as relevant and important across the birth to five age range, these values were not significantly reflected in educator’s preferred or espoused teaching practices. The study also identified a range of factors that positively and negatively influenced educator self-efficacy and dispositions towards mathematics across their lifespans. Practitioner led research projects are suggested as an effective form of professional learning to incorporate into future research projects.

Original languageEnglish
Pages (from-to)341–356
Number of pages16
JournalJournal of Early Childhood Research
Issue number3
Early online date12 Nov 2021
Publication statusPublished - 1 Sept 2022


  • birth to 5
  • numeracy
  • early childhood
  • mathematics


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