Friday, 18 May 2012

Helping Children With Maths - A Guest Post

Over the next few weeks I've hopefully organised a few good friends of mine who are going to be doing guest blog posts on my blog. 

Today I'm thrilled to to introduce my first guest blogger Being Mum to you. 

Being Mum is a friend of mine in real life and a newbie blogger as her blog is only a couple of months old. Being Mum is an ex-teacher and now SAHM to her 4 children and has kindly agreed to share some tips that she has learnt as a teacher to help us make maths more fun and educational for our children and how we can help encourage them in a subject that few people enjoy!

If you enjoyed her post, then don't forget to pop over to her blog Being Mum and check out some of her other wonderfully educational posts and read all about her journey through motherhood and all the highs and lows it brings! 


When I was at school I hated maths, I couldn't understand it and I hated my maths teachers. If I got things wrong they would put big red lines through my work and if my Dad helped me with my homework they would write comments hinting that I hadn't done it myself! It wasn't until I became a teacher and taught maths that I regained a healthy respect for it and began to enjoy maths. 

 I felt that I could relate to the children in my class who were terrified of maths. If I asked them a question they would give me the 'rabbit in the headlights' face and I knew they needed gently support and encouragement. The most important thing they needed to learn was that it was ok to get it wrong, and actually it was good if they got things wrong because you learn better from your mistakes.

When I worked as a Numeracy Consultant I trained governors, headteachers, teachers and parents and I always knew who hated maths - they sat at the back! The good mathematicians were hard to train because they were naturally so quick with numbers that they didn't understand why some children needed things broken down in to small manageable steps.

I ramble.... 

Supporting your child or children with maths should be fun and should not be scary for either of you. I hope that some of the ideas I can share with you, that I have gleaned in my career and being a mum, will help you to support your child with their maths.


  • Times Tables practice - make up a dance using different movements for each of the tables so that your child can get up and dance their timetables. I used this idea with children in my classes and they would actually get up and dance and sit down again to complete their calculation! So for example  1x2 (move the left shoulder up), 2x2 (move the right shoulder up), 3x2 (move both shoulders up), 4x2 (left arm on left hip) etc... 
  • Number of the week - choose a number and have a chart - how many times can your child find that number when you are out and about or in the house that week - the person who spots it the most times wins a prize.
  • Number games - use a pair of your child's socks rolled up into a ball - get old  cereal boxes etc and write numbers on them. You then have to throw the socks to get them in the boxes. Children can either just identify the number, add 10 to the number, multiply the number by 2,5,10 etc, double the number, add 100 to it. The possibilities are endless!


  • I'm Thinking of a Number - think of a number and everyone has to guess what your number is by asking questions (answers can only be yes or no) - can they guess your number in less than 20 questions, 10 questions etc. So they could ask is your number between 0 and 100?, is your number a multiple of 10 (does it end in a 0), is your number an odd number? etc 

  • Number Relay - using a large piece of paper or a dry wipe board write a number at the top - in 2 minutes how many different sums can you write up that have that number as their answer - if you have more than one child put them in teams or this works well with just 2 of you. The person/team with the most sums wins. 
  • Cooking - you can cover loads of mathematical concepts when cooking: Weight, g, oz, lb, kg. Time, how long will it take to cook, set a timer, read the clock to tell me when it will be cooked. Shapes from the cake tins or biscuit cutters. Counting out the cup cake wrappers. 
  • Stairs- how many times do we go up and down them everyday! (too many), try counting in 2's, 5's,10's. Go up 2 and then say lets go up 1 more -how many have we gone up?. Do the same with takeaway. Count backwards as well as forwards. 
  • Feely bags - make some cardboard numbers or use magnetic ones or any you may have. You have to feel in the bag to guess what the number is by feeling its shape. This works well with 2D and 3D shapes as well. You can also hold a little bit of a shape above the bag and they have to try and guess what it is, if they can't guess or get it wrong, hold a little more of the shape up. 

  • What am I drawing - with a board between you and your child each have a piece of paper and a pen. Explain what shape you are drawing, for example; I am drawing a shape with four sides that are all the same length. See if they can draw a shape using your description and name it. You can also using blocks and make a model then you have to describe to them where to put their blocks to see if they can recreate your model. This is good for language development, for example; I have put a red cube on top of a blue cube. To the left of the blue cube I have put a yellow cube etc. 

Ultimately remember that maths should be fun. Try to get things wrong yourself so that your child can see that we all make mistakes and that it is ok and can be quite funny!

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