Maths is a subject everyone needs to have at least a passable understanding of in life. As well as this, maths is a core subject in schools, required for entrance to most further education courses and tested in SATs at each level.
Primary aged children will take SATs in Year 2 and again in Year 6; maths is a large part of this. Whilst teachers will always do their best, it’s always a good idea for parents to back up school learning at every available opportunity.
Here are some ideas to help you to encourage maths practice at home:
Make it fun! As all parents know, everything is easier if it’s more fun. Look for ways to make maths fun and interesting for children, and you’ll get more out of them than if you sit them down with a worksheet on the weekends.
Play cards. Card games can teach children things like categorising, sequencing, sorting and more. Playing cards can also help to build confidence with maths and to remove the fear of failure that can be a big hurdle in maths.
Speak to the school. Many schools will use apps and websites that can be accessed from home. Using familiar activities can make it easier to continue with learning at home.
Use maths while shopping. If you’re working on addition, try to add up the prices of groceries; if you’re working on multiplication, try to work out how much it will cost to buy two, three or four chocolate bars.
Allow your child to get used to handling money. Whenever time allows, give them cash to count out and pay for goods; let them try to guess how much change there will be and so on. Using cash to pay for things is a great way to bring maths off the page and make it more relevant to children.
Be positive about maths. Avoid saying things like I was no good at maths or I hated maths in school; instead say things like I find this sort of thing hard too, let’s figure it out together or this is tricky, but it’ll feel great once we’ve worked it out.
Take every available opportunity to bring maths into everyday life: counting dogs you see in the street; measuring ingredients when cooking; anything and everything involving numbers can help with this.
Praise effort and determination rather than being "clever.” This will encourage a growth mindset, and the idea that they can always improve by working hard.
Don’t try to teach your child the methods you used at school; you risk confusing them by trying something different to what they’re learning in school. Instead, if you’re not sure about new methods, ask the school for a demonstration or worksheet to help you to help your child.
Lego building blocks can be great for learning fractions: blocks can be used to show a half, a quarter and so on.