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By Andrew Jeffrey, posted on 29th April 2020

Teaching maths at home

Unsurprisingly, many of us are keen to support our children’s maths education while schools are closed. The good news is that there are plenty of opportunities for us to do so at home which don’t require high levels of maths expertise.

Armed with little more than pencil and paper, dice, playing cards, dominoes, coins, or counters, you can provide stimulating and thought-provoking mathematical activities (whatever your own feelings towards the subject!).

Maths games and activities

Children learn best by DOING maths. Completing practical activities will help your child’s brain to form pictures that will enable them to think abstractly about mathematical concepts. Here is an activity you could try:

Roll three dice. Who can add them up fastest? Or you could roll as many times as you want and keep a running total, trying to get a higher total than everyone else. If you roll a 1, your score resets to zero!

Or how about this:

Take ten cards from a deck of cards, from an ace (worth 1) up to 10. Mix them up, then turn them face up one at a time. Keep a running total as you add. The total should always be 55, which is a useful check to make sure the additions were accurate! Try again and see if you can do it faster than last time.

Maths around the house

Why not find a recipe, then adapt the quantities as you cook to suit the number of people in your household? It’s also a great opportunity to talk about scales, weights, and temperature.

Speaking of food, do take advantage of mathematical opportunities while shopping, even if online. For example, which item is better value? How much is the discount? How many are there?

Inevitably the television might be on more at the moment, so why not use that as an opportunity for some mathematical thinking too? Have a go with our activity sheet:

Activity: What’s on next?

Add together the times of TV listings to find out longer durations.

Or for younger children, in Year 1 or below, counting is always a useful thing to practice. Here is a simple idea from Numicon:

Activity: Clever counting

Practice counting and saying numbers 1–30.

Where can I find maths support?

Investigating Oxford Owl will be helpful. Here is some of Owl’s best maths advice and support:

Finally, don’t forget that there are plenty of other websites out there to help, but the sheer range can be daunting, so here is a brief overview.

Maths education websites fall into three main categories:

  1. Firstly, there are the subscription-based online tasks such as MyMaths, Mathletics, Complete Maths, and so on. These tend to be school-wide subscriptions, so your school should have made you and your child aware of this and provided login information. They are ideal for students to work on at their own pace, as they probably already have a personalised programme of study that will feed back on any mistakes.
  2. Secondly, there are sites that provide resources for parents and teachers to use away from the computer. These often contain downloadable worksheets on particular topics.
  3. The third category is explanatory videos. Most of these are to be found on YouTube, though as with the other two categories, sourcing the most appropriate can be a minefield.

Good luck teaching your child maths at home, and remember, you don’t have to be an expert – regular practice and a willingness to keep going are the most important factors!