Maths learning at home is something that can involve the whole family and can be fun – yes, honestly! However, first you, as parents, need to approach it with a smile (no matter what your experiences were at school!). The people at National Numeracy are absolutely right when they say, “Developing number confidence and a positive attitude to maths have a crucial impact on a child’s schooling and their ability to use numbers in everyday life as they grow.“
They also have some great “Top Tips for parents:
Be positive about maths. Try not to say things like “I can’t do maths” or “I hated maths at school” – your child may start to think like that themselves
Point out the maths in everyday life. Include your child in activities involving numbers and measuring, such as shopping, cooking and travelling
Praise your child for effort rather than for being “clever”. This shows them that by working hard they can always improve”
Early years maths learning at home can be enormous fun, especially if you think outside the box! I talk a lot about maths cubes (Maths Cubes in Maths Learning at Home) because they really are very versatile. This set from Learning Resources is particularly good as it comes with activity cards which encourage development in patterning and sequencing, sorting and grouping, early arithmetic: addition, subtraction and multiplication, size / colour recognition, ordering and measurement.
I used to play a great messy game with cubes, which also develops both fine motor and problem-solving skills! Fill a big bowl with jelly and layers of cubes, in sets of 1s, 2s, 3 etc. Once the jelly is set, give your child some tongs and challenge them to hunt through the wobbly jelly and find groups of cubes which total different amounts (set by you). They can be maths archaeologists hunting for the remains of maths cubes dinosaurs! It’s wobbly fun and can be adapted to whatever their needs are – searching for colours, simply counting how many, ordering etc. You can, of course, do it without the jelly but it’s not half as exciting when it’s not messy!
There’s a lot of maths learning to be had from a good old fashioned game of darts! Again, something that can be played by the whole family and a great exercise in mental maths. Calculating totals, adding or subtracting those from the score, working out doubles and remainders – it’s all maths but it’s also so much more. Children learn naturally in a relaxed, hands on environment. Playing games with family is so important – especially at a time like this where monotony is the scourge of learning. Social skills – turn taking, winning or losing well, teamwork – all of these can be learned through a game of darts (and, in my experience, sometimes it is the adults who can learn those!)
Dice are another great resource to have in the house for developing super mental maths skills which really do make maths more accessible at all ages. For younger children, learning to identify the numbers represented by dots is a great way to start – making connections between images and cardinal numbers. As they get older simply adding numbers rolled on a six-sided die is great practice; if you have access to 10 or 20 sided dice then practising number bonds is great fun. Children love the responsibility of creating their numbers by rolling the die – the random nature of it all, the surprise! Roll a die three times – what is the biggest number you can make with those digits? The smallest? What is the difference between the biggest and the smallest? So many variations on what you can do.
For older children, revision guides and work books are great. They are intended to support their school learning – either as a homework, revision resources or just practise. There are books for all ages – some will need parental support.
Maths is all around us and an integral part of life. You can incorporate it into your day with your child from cooking, to reading a clock, working out how long a programme is on the tv, budgeting for an online food shop, organising buttons by size and colour and so on. It’s true – maths can be fun!
by Allie White, educational consultant to BrightMinds
As a parent and former-teacher, Allie has a hands-on approach to home learning, believing that the best learning is done together in a relaxed environment.
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