As our children go back to school after the holidays, it is a great time for parents to think about how they can help their kids with math in the coming year.
All children are born with an innate mathematical ability but what parents do to nurture this can be the difference between have a massive effect on how this develops. Even if you struggle with math yourself, there are things you can do with your child now that will make a big difference to their ability.
Tackling Math Anxiety
Many kids feel anxious about math. Math gets the reputation of being harder than other subjects, with lots of parents inadvertently perpetuating this idea. The irony is that this thought process leads to a self-fulfilling prophecy as the anxiety makes it harder for kids to concentrate, remember facts and solve problems calmly. Kids are then plagued by negative thoughts, such as “I’m terrible at this”, that make stress worse, and so the cycle continues.
The good news is that there are plenty of things you can do at home to help your child:
For kids to do well at math, they need to feel confident about giving it a go. Praise them for their effort, not their ability. This will increase their confidence and make them eager to learn more.
Subtract Negative Language
We all know how easily children pick up on the things we say, so it’s crucial that you don’t pass on your own dislikes or fear of math by saying things like ‘I was terrible at math at school’ or ‘I always hated math’.
If you’re helping them with their math homework and don’t know the answer, don’t worry. There’s nothing wrong with saying you don’t know. In fact, it’s a good thing, because then you can model for your child how to stay calm and ask for help.
For children to excel at math, it must be a concept they don’t dread. So, remember your new mantra: math is fun!
Multiple Opportunities to Learn
Practise math with your kids every day. This might sound like a Herculean task, but the good news is that you are already doing this to some extent without really trying. Math is everywhere – baking or shopping together, pointing out shapes, singing counting songs, playing with building blocks – practically every activity we do with our children involves math in some form. All we need to do as parents is find the learning opportunities in these activities and we’ll be helping our children grow into happy and confident mathematicians!
To help you help your kids with math, Edx Education has compiled free, downloadable Quick Curriculum Guides that show you what your child is learning at school, allowing you to provide targeted help at home to support their learning. Each of these easy-to-follow modules contains a simplified explanation of what the child will be learning at each stage and suggests activities or games ideas you can use to support their learning at home.
Grade 1 (Age 6+) Free Curriculum Guide
One of the key math skills for this age group is counting to and beyond 100, forwards and backwards, starting from any number. This really comes down to lots of repetition and practice. To help make the process more enjoyable, use supports such as this number board or these linking cubes.
Another great visual aid for this age group is these rainbow pebbles which as well as helping with early math skills, help to develop fine motor skills.
Grade 2 (Age 7+) Free Curriculum Guide
The National Curriculum expects children in this age group to know and write the time to five minutes, including quarter past/to the hour draw the hands on a clock face to show these times. This time clock or these fun time dominoes are perfect to practice with your child at home.
This age group is also learning to identify and describe the properties of 3-D shapes, including the number of edges, vertices and faces. These geometric solids are a great visual aid to help your child’s understanding.
Grade 3 (Age 8+) Free Curriculum Guide
Kids in this age group are learning how to count up and down in tenths: recognise that tenths arise from dividing an object into ten equal parts and in dividing one-digit numbers or quantities by 10. This Base 10 set is great at-home support for this, as are these Number rods. Meanwhile, these geostix are a fun way to teach geometry.
Grade 4 (Age 9+) Free Curriculum Guide
Adding and subtracting fractions with the same denominators is on the curriculum for Grade 4. These number line fractions are perfect for making the learning process easier.
To assist in the development of geometric concepts, spatial concepts, and problem-solving skills, these Tangrams are fantastic.
For lots of other great supports to help your kids, check out our huge range of popular Math Resources that will make learning math a fun activity you can build into everyday life and play.