If your child doesn’t like maths…read on!

Why does my child hate maths?

Helping your child understand maths?

Parents often ask how to get their child interested in maths because ‘they just don’t get it’. Clearly the same parents go searching for a maths tutor to help bridge the ever growing gap between their child and their peers. What they do not realise is that there is a lot of help they can get at home with a little guidance.

1. Maths language

Try keeping maths language as simple as possible. Use words like ‘more’ for adding and ‘less’ for subtraction. Children can be introduced to this concept in any situation e.g. more pizza please, more pasta, less sauce! By using the same words over and over and using concrete examples the information slowly, gets assimilated. Once your child has understood these basic concepts they can be swapped with ‘forwards’ and ‘backwards’ when counting. By doing this you are combining, logic, sequences and memory.

2. Logical thinking is important! Help establish it.

Baking a cake or growing flowers is a fun and very easy way to introduce logic to young children. A child will need to follow the steps before achieving the desired results. Talking about each step before and after means you are helping your child establish a logical thought process. This can be easily transferred to organising their school bag, or what is needed for a sleep over.

3. Sequential thought process is also important for verbal reasoning tests and maths in general.

This can be very simple. All the parent needs to do, at the end of the day, in a relaxed manner, is to go through the events of the day and then discuss the events of the following day. By talking about daily activities and routines, for example:

1) Going to the supermarket

– Parking the car

– Getting a trolley

– Going to the fruit and veg aisles and other areas that interest your family

– Going to the check-out

– Packing the bags

– Taking the shopping to the car

– Putting the trolley back

2) Taking a bath/shower

– Running the bath/shower and getting undressed, getting the soaps ready

            Turning the taps off

– Getting your towel ready (most adults when asked to do this exercise forget this part!)

– Adding bubble bath

– Checking the water temperature

– Climbing in

– Washing

            Climbing out

– Drying yourself

– Cleaning the bath down

– Getting dressed

A young child can quickly see how one thing follows another, how a person has to do things in sequence. This is an essential skill for understanding numbers implicitly.

4. Checking memory

If your child’s ‘short term working memory’ is poor, adding sums in his/her head will not enable them to hold on to the first piece of information, deal with the maths function and the next piece of information and work out the answer. Playing memory games is vital. A simple game of recalling what objects were on the table before being taken away can be a great way of testing development in this area. In fact, it is a basic skill that must be learnt to do well in maths, and it’s a fun game to play!

Maths should be an enjoyable experience for you and your child. The more enjoyable the exercise and delivery the quicker it will stick.

Learning the times tables

Learning time’s tables is a very important skill that is the foundation for all maths.

There is a wide maths curriculum, and the latest requirement is children knowing their tables up to 12×12 by the age of nine.

Does your child understand that multiplication is a repeated addition? If so then they will have an easier time learning them.

Using objects such as coins, illustrate a simple times table such as 3 X 2. Make two groups of three coins, and then count the coins. Continue this until they understand that multiplications is just adding a series of numbers; 6 X 4 means 6 added together 4 times (6 + 6 + 6 + 6).

Create a number line from 0 to 100. Show them the pattern to working out each multiple, i.e. the three times table answers are every third number. End by encouraging them to write out the times table on paper, using addition, up to 12.

The aim is to recite memorized facts, quickly and in any order. If your child is a visual learner, purchasing or making ‘flashcards’ can help a lot by writing the problem; e.g. 7 x 7 on the front and the answer 49, on the back. You can buy or even create with them a times table poster to display all the tables to 12.

DVD’s and music CDs are great for the car. Sing the times tables as multiples 0, 5, 10, 15, etc. and also as sentences 1×5=5, 2×5=10, etc.

Once your child has a basic knowledge of the tables, games will help instil the recollection of correct facts quickly. Multiplication Bingo, for example, Know Your Times Tables and ‘Math Whiz’ are great board games to learn from!

There are a whole host of multiplication computer games – multiplication.com, Learn-timestables.com, themathsfactor.com, mathsisfun.com, maths-games.org, and computer apps such as Squeebles, Ghost Blasters, Multiple Wipeout.

Remember to keep it fun!

Always go at your child’s pace and always praise their efforts. Aim to reward your children with every bit of progress made; it doesn’t have to be material things, it could be something fun to do together. Make sure you and your child take breaks often. Make them feel good about themselves and give real compliments when they are merited.

It is important to know that there have been enormous changes in grammar school maths exams. Previously maths papers would have contained classic grammar school style questions, appropriate for a typical bright eleven year old. However a few years ago there was the introduction and increase in multi-step problem solving and reasoning questions. Tutor-proof exam papers were designed… making the tests even more challenging. The new concepts would not have been covered at primary school and even the brightest children will need support and guided practice to manage these maths exams and reach their full potential.

Until Next Time,