I think the biggest thing I’ve been taking away from my own work and communicating with teachers is that maths concepts, like number symbols can and should be introduced in the early years, but through fun, play-based activities. There seems to be this false dichotomy in early education – like in that article the learning zone linked to in the Guardian, about Ofsted’s report about math in early years and those arguing against too much direct instruction and formal lessons in the Early Years.
The importance of children being physically active during the school day for ‘staying on task’. Here is press release (will try and dig out references) https://www.leeds.ac.uk/news/article/777/exercise_in_schools_can_help_children_pay_attention_in_the_classroom. Here are the actual references – Hill, L.J.B., Williams, J.H.G., Aucott, L., Thomson, J., Mon-Williams, M. (2011) How does exercise benefit cognitive performance in primary-school pupils? Dev Med & Child Neurology. Hill, L., Williams, J.H.G., Milne, J., Thomson, J., Greig J., Mon-Williams, M. (2010) Exercising attention in the classroom. Developmental Medicine and Child Neurology, 52, 929-934.
I think teachers could encourage children to think spatially, engage in spatial activities, and use spatial language. Spatial thinking has been shown to be important for maths (and indeed it is important in its own right) but is often forgotten in the classroom.
I think focusing on reading for pleasure is important to develop reading skills. Finding out what motivates children to read is the best way to encourage children to become independent reader who choose to read (and therefore practice their reading) outside of the classroom.