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Maths at Home Guide

© Sophie Waterman-Smith  23rd March 2017

Parents are in the ideal position to build their children's real life maths skills by involving them in real life Maths problems. Every day adults have to negotiate Maths problems around which car insurance company is providing the best deal or comparing a “buy one get one free” deal with a “buy 3 for 2” deal in the supermarket. Let your children have a go at helping you! 

Here are five ideas for how parents can help their children with Maths at home.

1. Positive attitude to Maths

Before any learning can take place at home, some parents will need to change their attitude towards maths themselves. Many parents have the attitude that they are “bad” at maths and pass negativity about maths onto their children.

If parents are at least aware of the effect of this attitude, then they can take steps towards being more positive about Maths around their children. 

2. Growth mindset 

Parents should be advised that Maths is not just about getting things “right” every time. A lot of Maths involves problem solving which is not a quick and easy exercise, as such pupils need to build up persistence and resilience.

Parents can support this by encouraging mistakes being made and viewing this a normal learning process, rather than a negative experience. This kind of approach to learning will help parents to enable the child to develop a growth mindset, where the pupil is more willing to make mistakes and try again. 

3. Learning new Maths teaching methods

Lots of parents want to help their children but are not sure how, or will try to teach your children the methods you learnt in school which can confuse pupils. We encourage you to talk to your child about the methods they are using in Maths in school.  We plan to create some videos to show you these methods so that you can help support yourchildren at home. 

It's quite possible for parents to learn the new methods that are now used in classrooms, such as the grid method and bar modelling (see a previous post on using bar modelling to solve multi-step problems, which includes a brief introduction and relevant links to the basics of bar modelling).

4. Playing games

Games can be a really positive way for children to learn - if correctly implemented. Many games actually involve Maths and can help children with counting, problem-solving, learning shapes and spatial awareness. 

Board games are a great way for parents to engage with their children and games such as snakes and ladders and chess and even Minecraft can encourage the development of mathematical skills and spatial awareness that are transferable in school!

5. Maths talk and topicality

Talking about Maths is really important for children to practise, as this allows them to explain their reasoning which will help them access harder questions. You can encourage yourchildren to talk about Maths in everyday situations, such as prices at the supermarket or counting physical objects. This is also really useful for helping children understand how Maths links to the real world.

It's more useful to develop your child’s questioning - just like a teacher would - than to give them the correct answer, even if you're tempted! For example you can ask “why did you write that down?” or “how did you get that answer?”

 

They key fact is to become aware of Maths at home and recognising the importance of using Maths as much as possible in your everyday life with your children!

There's a lot of evidence around mindset in Maths and the difference it can make to a child's learning so you might find parents interested in some of Jo Boaler's Youcubed work on Unlocking Children's Learning