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A Guide for Parents
Maths is one of the most important subjects that your child studies at school. Numbers are all around us and even if you don't see yourself as a mathematical genius, there is plenty that you can do.
Current teaching methods for maths and even the way that sums are recorded, appear very different from those taught many years ago to eager parents wanting to support their child. As a result, parents are often reluctant to help their children with maths homework for fear of doing things in the wrong way and ultimately confusing their child. Despite this fear, children really benefit when parents take a keen interest in their mathematical learning and assist them with developing new concepts. In fact, most educational studies suggest that parental involvement in the child's learning facilitates advanced achievement.
Hints and Tips for Parents
You can help your child to gain confidence and develop a positive attitude towards mathematics by talking about what has been taught at school and helping them to notice and use mathematics in an everyday context. Try some of the following ideas to reinforce learning that has taken place at school. A key part of every-day numeracy in school is arithmetic, this is where pupils learn how to confidently use all of the written methods involved with the four operations. As well as this, the pupils will learn about indices (square numbers and cube numbers) and gain an understanding of algebra. Throughout the school, pupils must get used to solving problems by employing written methods and the quick recall of their mathematical facts, rather than resorting to a calculator. Calculators are no longer permitted during any of the primary assessments.
On a more serious note, log in to The Oak National Academy and take advantage of the free lessons, resources, videos and quizzes which real (qualified) teachers have uploaded for pupils to use during the 2020 and the 2021 coronavirus lockdowns.
Play online games from free learning platforms like mathplayground and arcademics. These days, pupils seem to be more engaged and amenable with playing games online through an iPad or other tablet device. Take advantage of this desire to be online and let your child know that they can go online but that they have to play the maths games which you prescribe.
Play dice games with your child: throw two dice and multiply the numbers, then move on to multiplying the sum of two throws by the sum of another two throws. Try to get some pace into the game!
Play snakes and ladders, cribbage, darts, dominoes and other games that depend on numbers, counting, calculation and scoring. 'Battleships' is a fun way to use graphs and gain an understanding in plotting and reading co-ordinates. Invest in a range of maths puzzle books.
Talk about pocket money with your child. Help them to add it up week by week, and work out whether they can afford a particular toy or treat. Shop using money and calculate change.
Capitalise on hobbies! If your child is car-mad, talk about relative engine sizes, fuel economy, speed and performance. If they have a favourite pop group, get them to compile a list of statistics such as the number of weeks each single is in the charts. Watch and play sports that involve scoring, timing, counting, measuring.
Add number apparatus to your child's toy collection - counters, a purse full of change, dice, dominoes, a tape measure, ruler, pack of cards, timer, different shapes - and use them to make mathematics come alive.
Be creative! Ask your child to look out for patterns and shapes on floors, wallpaper, plants, animals, buildings - anything from the arrangement of tiles in the kitchen to the markings on the cat. Draw objects made entirely of triangles, rectangles or squares: make 'butterfly' pictures by painting on one half of the paper and folding it over so that the image is mirrored. Make mobiles by suspending objects from coat hangers and ensuring they balance.
Think about time. Look at clocks, both digital and analogue. Estimate how long a certain activity will take to do and see if you are right! Work out how long it is until the next mealtime. Play games: how long is a minute, starting from now?
Think about calendars and dates too. Make a timeline that includes the birthdays of each member of the family and work out how far apart each of them are. Use different units: months, weeks and days, even hours, minutes and seconds. Add other important events, such as a family holiday, and encourage your child to count down to the big day.
Cooking is a great way for helping your child to get to know simple weights and measures. An old-fashioned set of balance scales is ideal or even count out ingredients using spoons, measuring cylinders and digital scales. Let your child help you set the timer and count down to teatime! Later on, this is a good way to introduce the idea of ratios and proportions, too. Bear in mind that your child will be learning the metric system at school, so try to measure amounts in grams and kilograms.