Year 2 maths worries

(19 Posts)
bigbutsrus1 Mon 09-Dec-13 09:47:34

Hi, my DD aged 6 is struggling with Maths. I have spoken to her teachers on several occasions but to be honest they really don't seem to be concerned! She is a bright, quiet girl and a fluent reader. I went to see them at the beginning of this year to ask them to move her down a maths set as my DD said she doesn't understand the work and she had copied someone else's as there is no one to ask to help her (DD shy and didn't want to ask for help).

In year one we had huge anxiety troubles as she was kept in at play time due to her not completing her Maths (which she didn't understand), she felt punished and completely broke her (and me)! We are at a stage now where she can and enjoys doing things like doubles and half to 20 and number bonds to 10, sometimes 20. We play lots of games like shut the box and junior monopoly etc at home to try and help her.

I had a very similar experience with Maths and was terrified and rubbish at it (not that I would ever tell her this). I have a friend who is tutoring her once a week in a very chilled out manor. She has noticed what I have (but what the school teachers haven't), that when asking her maths questions such as "Sam has 50p and wants to buy some apples, each apple is 10p how many can he buy" she completely freaks out and guesses and just plucks numbers out of the air! I have looked at some of old sats papers online and to be honest they terrify me, let alone DD! I obviously want the best for her in her education and don't want her to feel scared of Maths because she isn't as naturally good as it as she is as Reading/writing/spelling.

It does surprise me that she can memorise a whole spelling test the night before her test and hasn't got a single spelling wrong, yet numbers just don't seem to stick. Her teachers do a job share and the one that does Maths is off and has been off quite a bit intermittently this year. She apparently average at Maths yet I doubt this from looking at the Expected maths skills online for this age. I just want her to be able to cope and not get to year 4/5 and need catch up. Any advise? Should I ask for extra maths at school or is this just for children who are in bottom set? Thanks and sorry for long post!

Xmas2013MN7256 Mon 09-Dec-13 09:54:39

Marking place as my DD is similar. Doing brilliantly in literacy but just doesn't get numbers. It baffles me as maths has always been my favourite/strongest talent.

I'm hoping it will just click as it did with reading (it just suddenly got to the point where she could read easily, and it was no longer a struggle IYSWIM) but I'm lost as to how to help her there.

bigbutsrus1 Mon 09-Dec-13 10:13:56

My concern is how long until numbers stick!? Maths moves at such a fast pace if you miss or rush the basics there is not time to catch up, then you are constantly playing catch up. sad.

ClayDavis Mon 09-Dec-13 13:26:43

What do you mean by numbers not sticking? And which bits aren't sticking? It's still only about 1/3 of the way into the school year, so I wouldn't necessarily expect her to be competent at all the expectations for this year now. Some of them won't even have been introduced yet.

You would be surprised how often the addition of a £ or p to a question can suddenly make it unanswerable. Word problems can cause issues at this age. I would be tempted to take it back a step if she's panicking.

Use word problems that use maths that she's very secure on rather than is still learning. This will allow her to focus on the problem solving skills rather than the maths itself. Getting her to use concrete objects e.g. coins, counters etc or drawings to model the problem might also help her.

drwitch Mon 09-Dec-13 16:30:56

Is your friend a teacher- I just ask because it could be that she is asking your dd to do things that she has not covered yet. Most children will leave year 2 having only just touched on division (and this is what is in your word problem). Each apple is 10p how much would 3 apples cost? If I had a pound (100p) how much changed would I get? is much much easier

bigbutsrus1 Mon 09-Dec-13 17:20:14

Yes my friend is a teacher and does a lot of extra teaching for children that struggle. My example was just an example. An example today DD struggled and panicked with 11-10 on the mathletics iPad thing from school. She turned it off and threw herself on the floor! She asked to do the mathletics herself, I do not push her. Think will we just leave it for a while then take baby steps with doubles, half, and keep recapping through games. sad

toomuchicecream Mon 09-Dec-13 18:28:47

Have you got a hundred square and/or a 0-100 number line on display at home? I'd really recommend them as a way of helping numbers to stick - it will help her to visualise the numbers and develop strong mental images to use when answering questions. There's a lot you can do with a hundred square (add 10 by going down 1, subtract 30 by going up 3 etc etc, hide some numbers and then work out what the missing ones are by using the patterns in the 100 square....

Happypiglet Mon 09-Dec-13 19:53:20

My DD (6) is very similar. Young in her year .. extremely good at all literacy (including having better handwriting than her Year 5 brother) but Maths is her nemesis.
She is however in the top group and I worried like you that she was being pushed much to far much too fast.
She will come home in tears because something just hasn't clicked and she sees her table mates (mostly boys) running on ahead and feels a failure.
But at parents evening the teacher knew all this (except for her sense of failure) and actually she is above average just not super above. And she thinks she can cope but is going to keep more of an eye on her in lessons.
It does not come naturally to her like my DSs much like literacy did not for them
Her teacher also thought that developmentally some areas have not yet clicked but will do.
I do a lot with her at home but on the very basics. I want her to be very secure in just adding and subtracting and have got her Kumon books which have pages and pages of sums which she loves doing. They are great for her confidence. And I think she is starting to 'see' the patterns.. for instance she has stopped doing a sum like 2-2 by counting backwards and can now see immediately that the answer is 0- believe me that took weeks to get her to understand. I am not surprised 11-10 threw your DD!
I would second keeping it simple (my DD can't do double and halves yet!).

bigbutsrus1 Mon 09-Dec-13 21:06:09

Thanks for your replies! When I have my sensible head on and not worrying it does go to show they all "get" things at different stages. I do find it quite frustrating though at DD school they do so much emphasise on literacy. Weekly spellings etc. but the only maths targets they were given haven't been changed or checked since Sept. I know they do daily maths but most of the home learning or stuff they are told to learn is literacy, and no hints or guide for parents how to do stuff at home. We get stacks of phonic info. My DS is in reception and he has tons of things sent home for parents to support them in reading but nothing on maths! Grrrrrrr! It is very difficult when it doesn't come naturally to the parents either, plus the methods have changed.

EdithC Mon 09-Dec-13 21:51:27

I completely agree with you. I now do 5 or 10 minutes practise with my DS Year 2 every morning. Times tables at the moment but I have done number bonds, doubles and halves. He has improved enormously. Your DD sounds just like my DS. He also used to get frustrated because he thought he couldnt do maths but he is much more confident now. I think mums and dads should be encouraged to practise maths as well as do reading and that parents should be taught how to help in reception.

I have a set of Cuisenaire rods for dd. I noticed she could do bigger number + smaller number but struggled with the opposite. E.g. 8+3 was fine but she found 3+8 hard. We did number bonds for 10 with the rods and it really clicked for her that the numbers just swap round as she could see it with the coloured rods.

You can do all sorts of maths with them.

friday16 Tue 10-Dec-13 08:13:11

tutoring her once a week in a very chilled out manor.

But we took you to stately homes! smile

Snowbility Tue 10-Dec-13 08:46:41

The guessing thing rings a bell, think both my dcs did that. I would take a step back and teach your dc to talk about maths. Ask what they are thinking, try to get them to describe the problem, don't be interested in the answer....the answer isn't the interesting bit, you need to take the attention away from it, it's the journey to the answer that will give you all the info you need to help your dd. And when she starts telling you how she's thinking logically...she'll be less inclined to guess an answer, and you'll know where the gaps in her understanding really are.

PastSellByDate Tue 10-Dec-13 10:12:22

Hi bigbutsrus1

I have so been there and absolutely feel for you.

First off you have to recognise this is stressing you out and even with the best will in the world to avoid sending negative messages about maths to your child - you probably already are signalling issues with math and worry.

You also said that you had a negative exprience with maths in primary.

So my advice, because I was at a point of total despair, is to take advantage of the era we live in where many clever people have expended all sorts of energy on making maths more entertaining and trying to explain concepts in a more understandable, and frankly, fun way.

My advice is support the maths learning but hand it over to someone/ something else - like an on-line tutorial.

I say this because I sincerely feel that practice and exposure to more maths makes doing maths in class easier. If the school isn't given your DD the support (and it sounds like there are issues there) then please don't feel there are no other solutions:

Go to any large newsagent or bookshop and have a look at the wide range of KS1 maths workbooks available. I suggest you let your DD look through and chose one that suits (she may respond better to more visual books with addition/ subtraction/ etc... explained pictorially).

FREE on-line resources:

Woodlands Junior School Maths Zone - all I can say is absolutely fabulous website with links to all sorts of resources (primarily games) in whatever area of maths you feel your DC needs more practice in - link here:

Cool Maths for Kids: - it's not the easiest website to navigate - but there are all sorts of games & resources/ explanation on how to do things. It's worth spending some time and exploring - or using the search facility - there usually is something to help with a concept.

TUTPUP: - more maths games & ability to control difficulty.

BBC Bitesize KS1 Maths: - games to practice key concepts tested in KS1 SATs - can control difficulty of games.


now with DD1, she left KS1 with a NC 1 in Maths on KS1 SATs and had absolutely no confidence in her ability to do maths. I used to get upset trying to explain how to take 1 from 10 and she'd reassure me that 'It's o.k. Mum, Mrs. X says I'm just no good at maths' - completely accepting that this is just something she'd never do. (Which drove me mad - to be honest!)

So we turned to mathsfactor (an on-line tutorial in maths presented by Carol Vorderman).

I have to say that others here on mumsnet have sung the praises of:


Maths Whizz:

and Mathletics:

Our choice was mathsfactor: - this was consciously because it was presented by a woman. I definitely wanted me girls to see that girls can be good at maths. Carol Vorderman begins each lesson with a video tutorial briefly presented a key concept, you then have a little warm-up quiz or a game and then the main practice. This amounted to no more than 1 1/2 hours of extra maths (5 sessions) a week - and the timing was totally flexible and suited our hectic family life.

All of these on-line tutorials, not just mathsfactor, I've mentioned will assess your child at where they're start from where they're at. Each offers building block progression working through concepts gradually with lots of video game style practice (which is much more appealing to this generation of children).

Right now mathsfactor is offering a winter maths club for about £5 which will last all December and into January - so for very little outlay you can have a long trial of this programme and all of these programmes usually offer a period of free trial (usually a month) - again meaning that you can try things out and decide what is best for you with very little outlay.


I should add there there is finally one further free maths tutorial - which is that you can work through maths lessons/ practice with Khan Academy: - but this presumes a starting level of ability to add and subtract 2 digit numbers and this may be beyond what your DD can do just now.

However it is useful to know that another form of explanation on how to do things (which is also visual) is available (for future reference at the very least).


Having been through this scenario myself and come out the other side (DD1 who scored NC L1 KS1 SATs is now being put forward for L6 paper at KS2 SATs) - I can genuinely say that these days there are so many resources out there that you don't have to be expert - you just have to decide what suits your budget, your child's learning style and interest and how much you're personally willing to be involved. I had to do a lot of data entry at first, because both DDs started young (6 for DD1 and 5 for DD2, who got jealous of DD1 having fun on mathsfactor and begged to join for her birthday present).

For us it meant that the key concepts were being learned. The pace ultimately was faster than our school (although the multiplication package in the arithmetic school seemed to go on for a long while - it paid off, because times table facts were so secure division and work with fractions seemed a doddle).

The only drawback I can see with mathsfactor is it really avoids anything to do with geometry - so that side of things will have to be covered in school & elsewhere (workbooks/ websites). But those core skills: addition/ subtraction/ multiplication/ division & their application with concepts like percentages, fractions, proportions are thoroughly covered by mathsfactor.

Everyone is different. You may not want to go down this road - which I totally respect. But, I just thought I should say that there is help out there and to encourage you to have a look at what's on offer (and I'm sure there's even more now) and try things out. There is a solution out there for you.

myron Tue 10-Dec-13 13:55:16

Trust your instincts and take proactive action. DD(6) is similar and I decided after reading threads on MN to take proactive action so DD has been doing Mathsfactor for the last 2 months.

We had a few tears in the first few weeks but it has gotten better. DD does it straight after breakfast and before we set off for school and it takes her about 15-20mins 5x a week (so not exactly a massive chore!).

We do her reading after school leaving her with plenty of time to play/fight with DS and watch TV - and it's definitely building up her confidence. It doesn't help that her older brother is a whizz at maths and we didn't have the same concerns so it was a bit of an unhappy eye opener that I had to consider supporting at home not to stretch my child but to give her a solid grounding in the basics of addition & subtraction. She is now covering 2, 5 & 10 x tables and I am really happy so far with her progress.

I feel that I have wrestled back some control but it has added to my dilemma of whether to move DD to the smaller classes of the local private sector but that's an angst not appropriate for this thread!

bigbutsrus1 Tue 10-Dec-13 22:43:39

Once again thank you so much for your replies. I have some of Carol V work books and she does mathletics. I may look at the other online things. I am not sure we could fit in 20 mins a day. I work three days a week shift work and also I do find it difficult to split myself between each child! By the time DP comes home it's bedtime, although this is a time DD likes to "do" maths with me - unless it's a bedtime stalling tactic! I think lots of games, card games etc at the moment and after Christmas I will re-think things re online stuff. not sure if this may be a bit too full on for her though. She does have the one hour a week tutoring which I think is really helping as its a whole hour of attention with her, which a whole week at school maths probably equates!

bigbutsrus1 Tue 10-Dec-13 22:47:03

Forgot to say snowbility - thank you for your advice that's really interesting about just talking about the problem solving and not so much the answer. I keep saying "I love maths it's just like puzzles"!! (So not true for me)! But may help her anxiety.

PastSellByDate Wed 11-Dec-13 09:49:23

Hi bigbutsrus1:

Hadn't appreciated she's already being tutored 1 hour a week. In which case I think time and practice should be the solution.

Perhaps the solution is to encourage her to play a maths game on-line now and then + tutoring - if you're concerned she's not progressing as fast as you like.

I listed some great free websites above but also should mention mathchamps (which I forgot). This has games banded by ages 5-7/ 7-9 and 9 - 11 that get progressively more challenging with each level.

Link here:

If you're going to have time off over the christmas/ new Year holidays - I really do think you should consider joining the winter maths camp on mathsfactor. It can't hurt and she (and you) may enjoy it. I personally found helping my own children with maths has improved my own mental maths skills and definitely wish I'd learned times tables with all the tricks there are out there now. (I fear I'm so old it was all 'rote memory' in my day - lots of chanting back to the teacher as dinosaurs roamed the playground).


ZeViteVitchofCwismas Wed 11-Dec-13 10:14:37

Another problem with Maths is language.

The school will use one way of describing things and you may use another at home. I know the describing of things was a huge barrier to me.

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