Introduction for Parents
The maths work your child is doing at school may look very different from the kind of calculations you remember. The purpose of this is to outline the various calculation methods that children are taught as they progress through the school, many of which look different from the methods that you may have been taught in your primary school days.
As children progress through the school, they are building up a bank of strategies that can be applied when appropriate. Each strategy can be refined or extended to suit the calculation needed. We hope the explanations and examples of strategies will help you to assist your child at home.
Children will move on through the progressions for each operation when they are ready. There are some other key skills that are vital for children to be competent in before they learn the next method. Practising these skills should be encouraged as much as possible.
When faced with a calculation problem, encourage your child to ask:
- Can I do this in my head?
- Could I do this in my head using drawings or jottings to help me?
- Do I need to use a written method?
- Should I use a calculator?
Also help your child to estimate and then check the answer.
Encourage them to ask: “Is the answer sensible?”
Helping At Home
Here are some ideas and suggestions for maths activities that you can enjoy doing with your child in the world away from school. It is not an exhaustive list and you will doubtless have many more ideas of your own.
Real Life Problems
- Go shopping with your child to buy two or three items. Ask them to work out the total amount spent and how much change you will get.
- Buy some items with a percentage extra free. Help your child to calculate how much of the product is free.
- Plan an outing during the holidays. Ask your child to think about what time you will need to set off and how much money you will need to take.
- Use a TV guide. Ask your child to work out the length of their favourite programmes. Can they calculate how long they spend watching TV each day / each week?
- Use a bus or train timetable. Ask your child to work out how long a journey between two places should take? Go on the journey. Do you arrive earlier or later than expected? How much earlier/later?
- Help your child to scale a recipe up or down to feed the right number of people.