Week after week, in my capacity as an educational assessor, I meet children who have lost the love of maths. As toddlers they loved to count and sing number songs but, often a few years into their formal education, they loathe it. I frequently ponder the reasons why. Here are my 5 tips to helping your child feel good about maths:
1. Don’t let them know if you have your own feelings of inadequacy in maths. All too often parents tell me, in front of their child, “It’s no wonder they find it difficult, I’m dreadful at maths.” Children assume that they will be like their parents and automatically imitate their feelings and actions.
2. Talk about maths in contexts away from the maths books. Pizzas are great way to discuss fractions. Cooking, car journeys and train timetables all help with measurement and time.
3. Think about maths on your family days out. Theme parks are great places to consider speed, measurement and money. Pose questions such as “How high do you think that roller coaster is?” “Is this ride faster than x?” “How much is it for two adults and two children? Is that more or less than one adult and three children?” Visit technology, science and transport museums such as www.techniquest.org, www.ltmuseum.co.uk, www.sciencemuseum.org.uk. Simple trips to the swimming pool or cafe provide the opportunity to calculate with money or estimate the number of customers per hour, consider the most popular sandwich fillings or calculate the most frequent transport method to get to the destination.
4. Let your child play the teacher. Children love to be the teacher. Ask your child to explain partitioning or equivalent fractions to you. This will not only boost their confidence but it will help you to understand how your child is being taught.
5. Finally, if you struggle in maths yourself, endeavour to help yourself as well. There are maths books for parents who want to help their kids, there may be maths courses for parents at your local schools,or download DoodleMaths and work through the explanation section and remind yourself – after all, it was a long time ago!