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Helping your child with maths

Some children struggle with maths or numeracy, but the good news is that there are several ways parents can help their child become confident with numbers.

Some difficulties with numeracy are caused by:

  • the language used in setting a task being too complicated for the child to understand;
  • poor memory skills, which stop a child from learning a technique – for example, times tables.

Developing numeracy skills

Consider these things if your child's numeracy skills need improving:

  • Does your child understand the task?
  • Has your child learnt how to do the sum – for example, counting, adding, learning times tables? These need good memory skills - often a difficult area for some children.
  • Does your child know how to solve a numeracy problem? For this, your child needs to understand the numeracy problem and which technique will help solve it. Problem solving has four steps:
    1. Understand the problem – the child should explain the task, possibly using visual aids or equipment.
    2. Plan to solve the problem – suggest possible ways to your child.
    3. Try the solution.
    4. Review the problem and its solution – reconsider the problem and check the answer makes sense.

How you can help

  • Liaise with your child's school – find out the yearly targets for your child's numeracy skills so you understand and can support what your child's teachers are trying to do.
  • Reduce anxiety – praise your child and ask your child to explain to you how to do something.
  • Help with homework – it's important to be involved and interested in your child's activities.
  • Encourage mathematical games and activities at home - try to relate these to what your child is learning at school and make it fun.

Helping with maths homework

  • Check that the work is being set at the child's level and that your child can explain the problem they have to solve.
  • Use easy words to explain the problem.
  • Encourage your child to use practical items – for example, money, sweets – and try to make the homework meaningful.
  • Make number facts fun – for example, use times tables song tapes – and make sure they relate to what your child is learning at school.
  • Use mental arithmetic by talking about different ways to get a right answer.
  • Help your child find a mistake and praise them for doing this.

Discuss any concerns you have with your child's teacher.

Mathematical games and activities

The family can have fun at the same time as working on numbers. Ideas include:

  • sorting, counting, matching, comparing
  • using number songs and rhymes
  • using puzzle books and games, including Monopoly
  • spotting numbers on bus and car number plates
  • counting money and change when you go shopping
  • telling the time
  • asking your child to halve or double the numbers in a recipe you give them
  • measuring furniture and spaces to see what would fit where
  • reading bus and train timetables.

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