Top 10 Tips from the Maths Department!
- Play games together! Games involving numbers are not only great fun but are also brilliant for sharpening up your numeracy skills, improving your sense of probability and logical reasoning without even realising it. We highly recommend the dice game Yahtzee!
- Involve your child in everyday calculations. Help your child to see maths in a range of contexts. For instance when shopping or in the home, working with money, estimating a rough answer, working with time, changing the quantities in a recipe, converting between different units, calculating discounts, decorating, estimating lengths and weights before measuring, reading kitchen scales, planning a bedroom layout. The possibilities are endless!
- Get your child to teach you! Ask your child to explain their private study or classwork to you. Ask them to explain the method they used or the strategy they used to solve a problem. It’s amazing how explaining something to someone else helps you to understand it even more! Teachers often say how they understand a topic much better after having taught it for the first time.
- Times tables. Knowing your times tables is important so that it does not form a barrier when learning other concepts. Talk with your child about which multiplication facts your child does know and how they can use them to work out other facts, for example: ‘I know that 4 × 7 = 28, so 8 × 7 = 56 as it is twice as much’. There are lots of games on the internet which your child can play to practise their timestables. Practice makes perfect!
- Read “Thinking Mathematically” by J. Mason, L. Burton & K. Stacey. This legendary book is perfect if you want to develop your own powers to think mathematically. It reveals the problem-solving skills at the heart of mathematics, for example, what to do when you are stuck on a problem, and demonstrates how to encourage and develop them. Extremely practical, it involves you as the reader in solving fascinating problems so that subsequent discussions speak to immediate experience. Have a pencil and lots of scrap paper ready!
- Do puzzles together! Maths is at its most enjoyable when your mind is working in overdrive trying to solve an intriguing puzzle or problem! You can find popular logic puzzles such as Su Doku and Futoshiki in newspapers. You can find lots of interesting problems to challenge you and your child at website such as www.nrich.maths.org.uk and www.mathsnet.net/dailypuzzle.html . A quick internet search for Henry Dudeney and Martin Gardner will return some suggestions for puzzle books to keep you mathematising for hours!
- Read “Maths for Mums and Dads” by Rob Eastaway and Mike Askew. Although mainly meant for parents of primary school pupils, this popular book is for you if you want if you are confused by the methods which pupils now learn in school and want to find out more! This review says it all: “This delightful little book is perfect for parents who want to understand the different methods to do arithmetic their children are learning — and why they are being taught that way. The authors’ easy going style and humor should help ease the path for parents for whom mathematics brings feelings of dread.” It gets 5 stars on Amazon!
- Never joke about being bad at maths! It is very common to hear adults say things such as “I was never any good at maths”, but you never hear people say “I can’t read” or “I can’t write”! It is important that children do not receive the message that it’s okay to be bad at maths.
- Avoid teaching tricks and rote methods! It is important to be sensitive to the way pupils are taught now and not rehearse the tricks that you may have learned when you were at school. For example, children often hear things like “two minuses make a plus” and then make mistakes like “– 6 – 2 = 8”. It is far better for children to understand, for example, that “subtracting a negative number is the same as adding it”.
Any tips to share?
Do you have a favourite game which you play at home which involves maths?
Are there any activities you do with your child which encourage them to use maths?
We’d love to hear them! Just send your tips to email@example.com so we can share them with other parents on this area of the school website.