Y4 child struggling with maths, how to help?

(17 Posts)
SchnitzelVonKrumm Mon 08-Jun-15 19:48:55

My DD is struggling with maths. I think she has the basics down (knows times tables, seems to understand methods) but struggles to apply them and with problem solving. She also seems never to finish the test which doesn't happen with literacy, for example, even though she is a bit of a daydreamer.
Does anyone have any ideas about how we could help her (especially it was all taught differently in my day!). She is a strongly visual learner so anything that uses that would be great.

TheTroubleWithAngels Mon 08-Jun-15 19:56:11

Does she know her times tables or can she recite them? Can she say them backwards? Does she need to go through the whole table to find one answer?

If she is a visual learner, cooking or baking is a fantastic way to put maths into action. Reading a recipe, shopping for ingredients, measuring and eating grin

Teaching her how to read a question might also be useful. I get my kids to use a crayon or highlighter to circle the numbers.

Purpleflamingos Mon 08-Jun-15 19:56:33

You can get books from cheap places like the works, or more expensive ones from waterstones that are very visual and have short exercises. Ds loves to do his books, maybe a couple of pages on a weekend where I will sit with him.

Don't let her get lost though. I got 'lost' in ks2. I'm now in my thirties resitting gcse maths (1 down, 1to go). Speak to her teachers. There's online resources too, we paid for a good one but I can't remember the name, it taught ds to read. They had maths on there too, about £40 a quarter I think.

Or download some app games onto your iPad/iPhone? I keep putting games on my ds' old innotab rather than his tablet.

toomuchicecream Mon 08-Jun-15 20:06:12

Get yourself a copy of Maths for Mums and Dads - it will explain the methods currently taught in school.

SchnitzelVonKrumm Mon 08-Jun-15 20:23:40

She can do her tables forwards and backwards and out of sequence though not especially fast. I suspect she doesn't really break down the questions so that's a good idea.

TheTroubleWithAngels Mon 08-Jun-15 20:50:08

Try looking at arrays with her. You can draw them with coloured dots, or lay out beads or cars or any sorts of little things.

For example, you have a 10x10 table and you use it to practically demonstrate, through colour or objects, that 5x5 is 25.

Sorry if that's not very clear!

TheTroubleWithAngels Mon 08-Jun-15 20:52:08

Just the first example on google here. Not in a grid, but the same idea.

MMmomKK Mon 08-Jun-15 21:39:31

As I understand girls often struggle with applying math in problem solving. I am not sure there is any other way to help her other than practicing solving math problems together. If she gets stuck - you can always depict the questions visually. I used to do that with DD1 and it definitely helped.

I quite like the Heineman Math Word Problems book - it has various problems grouped by theme - time, quantity, etc. The link below is for Y4, but if those are too hard, and to build her confidence you can try Y3 problems.

Also Schofield and Sims has KS2 Problem Solving workbooks.


TheTroubleWithAngels Mon 08-Jun-15 21:43:27

I would honestly avoid death by workbooks.

The first step to understanding maths is seeing it or doing it. Once you have that picture in your head, you can move onto representing it with letters or numbers or symbols. There are so many great mathematical activities to do at home!

Pumpeedo Mon 08-Jun-15 21:45:51

Have you thought about getting a Chinese abacus or a Japanese abacus (they're totally dissimilar)? Also draw an apple pie and demonstrate multiplying and dividing fractions. I'd also recommend just googling what you're looking for. They're are so many apps and websites out there nowadays.

OhYouBadBadKitten Mon 08-Jun-15 21:50:26

That is a bit of a generalisation mmmom.

There are some great problems on nrich which look at maths in a much rounder way. Start with the very easy problems.

Dont worry about whether she finishes the tests at school at the moment, the key at present is to get her enjoying it and believing in herself. She needs to learn how to find out what the maths question is among all of the words.

RafaIsTheKingOfClay Mon 08-Jun-15 22:21:39

Death by workbooks does have its place but it depends on what you are trying to do.

Solving word problems does need to be taught as a separate skill. If that's what she's struggling with, then I would use problems that involve maths skills she's really confident with. That way she can focus more on working out what she needs to do to solve the problem rather than having to think about how to carry out the procedures as well.

Ferguson Mon 08-Jun-15 22:57:39

Much of this may be too simple for her, but it is my standard Numeracy advice. The links are probably worth exploring:

Practical things are best for grasping number concepts - bricks, Lego, beads, counters, money, shapes, weights, measuring, cooking.

Do adding, taking away, multiplication (repeated addition), division (sharing), using REAL OBJECTS as just 'numbers' can be too abstract for some children.

Number Bonds of Ten forms the basis of much maths, so try to learn them. Using Lego or something similar, use a LOT of bricks (of just TWO colours, if you have enough) lay them out so the pattern can be seen of one colour INCREASING while the other colour DECREASES. Lay them down, or build up like steps.


ten of one colour none of other
nine of one colour one of other
eight of one colour two of other
seven of one colour three of other
then of course, the sides are equal at 5 and 5; after which the colours 'swap over' as to increasing/decreasing.

To learn TABLES, do them in groups that have a relationship, thus:

x2, x4, x8

x3, x6, x12

5 and 10 are easy

7 and 9 are rather harder.

Starting with TWO times TABLE, I always say: "Imagine the class is lining up in pairs; each child will have a partner, if there is an EVEN number in the class. If one child is left without a partner, then the number is ODD, because an odd one is left out."

Use Lego bricks again, lay them out in a column of 2 wide to learn 2x table. Go half way down the column, and move half the bricks up, so that now the column is 4 bricks wide. That gives the start of 4x table.

Then do similar things with 3x and 6x.

With 5x, try and count in 'fives', and notice the relationship with 'ten' - they will alternate, ending in 5 then 10.

It is important to try and UNDERSTAND the relationships between numbers, and not just learn them 'by rote'.

An inexpensive solar powered calculator (no battery to run out!) can help learn tables by 'repeated addition'. So: enter 2+2 and press = to give 4. KEEP PRESSING = and it should add on 2 each time, giving 2 times table.

There are good web sites, which can be fun to use :



SchnitzelVonKrumm Wed 10-Jun-15 23:17:58

Ah thanks all, the nrich and Woodlands Junior sites look great. Ferguson we have done lots of the things you suggest but it was helpful and I would recommend to others. She needs to learn how to find out what the maths question is among all the words - I think you're spot on OhYouBadKitten!

MMmomKK Fri 12-Jun-15 22:25:35

I love nrich. Dd1's extension teacher uses it with her for extra math challenges.

However, if she is struggling with straight forward word problems, I wonder if it wouldn't be frustrating for her to be faced with "out of the box" problems that nrich has, even the easy ones.

I'd get her to be comfortable with regular problems. The reason we liked Heinman's Word Problems that I mentioned above is that most problems involve kids and school life. The questions about time can be about Math lesson starting at certain time and lasting for X duration. Distance problems would be about kids A, B, C walking to school, etc.

"Death by workbooks" sounds harsh. OP mentioned that her daughter found math problem solving difficult. So, in addition to practicing math skill in general, it is useful to try doing math problems together with her. And there is nothing wrong with "teaching" problem solving - all that means at that age is that you show them to pay attention to the words and the main question, underline important numbers, think about how approach it step by step.

Rafa - yes, it is a generalisation, but is not a judgement. And definitely not something to just accept. The studies I read on it state that in order to do well in math (and science) girls need to understand/believe that their abilities are not just a given (eg I am good/bad in math), and that with practice they can get better and do things they couldn't before.

So I make sure we do a lot of problem solving with both of my DDs. Some from workbooks, some I make up myself. It's fun, it is definitely not death by workbooks!

PastSellByDate Mon 15-Jun-15 14:50:49

Hi Schnitzel:

I'd second NRICH - you can also post your answers and I know DD1 (who's doing this a lot in Y7) gets very excited if her answer goes up.

The other thing you can do is use basic things you do at home - like cooking a recipe (say biscuits) but doubling it or halving it? Or increasing it by 1/3?

I had real problems with DD1 with this in Year 4 and found getting her to work out how many things we needed to buy so everyone got one in their party bag for her birthday helped solve the problem. (I suspect she always relates better to shopping - that kind of girl!).


phonemum Thu 18-Jun-15 14:57:52

My yr7 dd had similar maths issue when she was in yr4. I bought a couple of cookery books 1x baking & 1x snack type meals. Also got some cheap and cheerful measuring cups and a traditional scale. I allowed her to choose something to cook everyweekend. Also she would do the budgeting and pricing with real money. She really enjoyed all that and she was very proud when told her school friends she had to make dinner for her family. The whole exercise helped experience how maths relate to everyday life.

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