Daughter is really struggling in maths, how do I deal with it?

(23 Posts)
DarkBlueEyes Wed 24-Feb-16 14:36:53

Hoping some of you lovely mumsnetters will have some wise words for me as I'm feeling very down about this and don't know how best to tackle it. DD1 has done very well getting into a good private school through hard work and determination, maths definitely her weakness but she's worked very hard. DD2 who is 8 (late July baby) and in year 4 has for a few years struggled with maths. We've just relocated and she was in the "remedial" group (it was probably really called something far more politically correct) at her old school and always had difficulty understanding what was asked of her.

She is just not interested in maths. She's not stupid, her English and reading and her creative writing are excellent. She can be determined, but unlike her elder sister she is feisty and stubborn and opinionated and knows how to push my buttons

She's generally doing well at her new state primary school and I'd hoped moving (I told the new teacher nothing about her struggling) might have helped remove her maths "label" and allow her to shine. She's doing an after school tutoring club with some of her friends which she moans like beggary about, but always seems to enjoy while she's there. She does the homework with prompting and seemed to be coping ok. They had an assessment yesterday. She got 19 out of 50, by far and away the lowest in the group. She thinks that's really good and told me it was stuff they hadn't learned.

I've spoken to the tutor, and it IS stuff they've learned. Tutor has acknowledged that she isn't retaining/understanding stuff and she's tried hard to make sure that DD2 goes away having fully understood the concept. DD isn't bothered. We are going to do an extra half an hour one on one before the tutoring group.

I'm conscious I've got school entrance coming up and there is just no way she'll get through it if she carries on like this. How do I get her to understand and engage? She's the kind of child who could achieve anything once she's put her mind to it...

I am thinking her sister will be enjoying a private education while DD2 will end up at the local comp (not that there's anything wrong with this but she's so sporty the private school would be really good for her amongst all the other stuff).

I really would appreciate any advice - really, it wouldn't matter if she went state or private secondary, at this rate, she'll end up tanking maths whichever route she goes down, so I feel I have to deal with it now to avoid future problems.

I'm not very good at maths either but managed to do what I needed to do to get through it

Partron Wed 24-Feb-16 14:39:39

Is it a selective secondary? If very academic and selective then might not be the right place for her. Could you find a good local tutor?

DingbatsFur Wed 24-Feb-16 14:45:05

I sympathise. I hated maths as a child and thought I could avoid it.

Have you tried... i hate to say this ... Making it fun? There are lots of maths card games (we play addition, subtraction and times table snap) that you can play that don't make it seem like work.
The murderous maths books and the 'this is not a maths' boom are also good. There is also a minecraft maths book and several fun ways you can use maths with minecraft.

DingbatsFur Wed 24-Feb-16 14:45:33

*book not boom!

DarkBlueEyes Wed 24-Feb-16 14:45:34

She's in a state primary, and her sister is at a selective secondary, but it's not mega academic if you see what I mean - they do well with their value added and I think it would be good for DD2. I'm working on the tutoring. I just somehow need her to understand she can't just stick her head in the sand and ignore maths, it won't go away. Thanks Partron for replying. flowers

irvine101 Wed 24-Feb-16 14:46:11

Does she like using computer?
This website has tutorial video and quiz for all maths skills and it's really good. My ds enjoy completing skill and collecting badges. It's an American site, so grade/year system is different.It's free.


irvine101 Wed 24-Feb-16 14:47:37

It's se....I mean It's free!

Partron Wed 24-Feb-16 14:50:29

One of the local prep schools recommends conquest maths. It looks really good.

TheWoodenSpoonOfMischief Wed 24-Feb-16 14:51:00

Can you get her 1-2-1 tutoring rather than a club?

When ds1 was struggling a bit, I asked his teacher every Friday dh at they were going to do the following week then make sure I covered it at home.
I used Bbcbitesize and just worked with him. Explaining things using sweets or cakes or other practical examples he could understand.
I also made sure he knew his timestables. We listen to YouTube timestables songs every morning at breakfast.

TheWoodenSpoonOfMischief Wed 24-Feb-16 14:52:18

Dh at means what

haggisaggis Wed 24-Feb-16 14:55:57

Could she be dyscalculic? My dd did not progress at all in maths at primary as she could not learn things like tables and number bonds. Now she is at secondary and her dyscalculia is recognised, they have given her tools like a table square and calculator and her maths has really progressed.
IME dyscalculia is not really recognised the same was as dyslexia and children are often just thought to be poor at maths and not given the help to improve.

MyMissionIsComplete Wed 24-Feb-16 14:57:10

Have you looked on YouTube? There are some excellent maths tutors on there.

Viewofhedges Wed 24-Feb-16 15:07:17

Oh this was me. Hated maths. Hated the way it was taught (mostly through those dreadful 'work through it on your own' books). I spent most of the time staring out of the window. I was top of the class in everything - except maths, where I was at the bottom.

My mum dealt with it by hiring the tutoring services of the lovely Mr Logan. He came to the house on a Friday after school (worst possible time as I was tired and had just had swimming class) and taught me maths the old fashioned way (he was in his 70s and had taught at a private school). He smelt of pipe smoke. After a while something 'clicked' and with his new / different way of looking at the problem, I ended up getting an A at GCSE.

Forward 20 years and my creative writing book eating self now works in film, where I have to be very good at numbers. I'm also self employed, so do all of my own invoicing and tax etc - so I use maths every day.

I think I got it when I could see when it was useful (algebra? wha? who cares!) and also when it was taught to me in a way my wordy brain understood. Maths teachers get maths but those of us who love words more sometimes need a different way 'in'. Forcing extra maths or trying to make it 'fun' might just make her hate it even more. (If she's bright she'll probably feel quite patronised by that approach). But making maths useful to a creative brain and then it suddenly isn't maths any more, just a tool to get a job done, and that's when I engaged. I'd think more about bits of maths (oz to grams in a recipe, working out costs of things etc) but avoid talking about it as a thing with a capital M which is her 'problem' before she starts thinking about it as something she can't do / hates / wants to avoid.

DarkBlueEyes Wed 24-Feb-16 15:11:37

Haggis her old teacher raised this as they'd wondered too but seems convinced she isn't. I'll have a look at all that stuff thank you. Times Tables are ok as we've been doing squeebles which she likes, and she's now got her bronze certificate. She can multiply but division as a concept is beyond her now. Think I'll need to divide up lots of cakes and chocolate before she gets it....

Notcontent Wed 24-Feb-16 21:57:58

My dd was like this - at the end of year 2 I realised she was really struggling with the basics - just not getting it in class and getting labelled as a child who is just not good at maths. So I took action and we started doing a bit of maths at home every day - work sheets, computer games, etc. The result is that while she is definitely not a maths wiz, she was in the top group by the end of year 4. I think for maths repetition is key.

Ferguson Thu 25-Feb-16 18:14:36

This might not help greatly, but I always offer it for Maths difficulties. The most important thing I always think is to try and UNDERSTAND what is happening. And having a PURPOSE for numbers and Maths also helps.

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 :



Happymummy007 Thu 25-Feb-16 20:30:32

Might something like Explore for Learning help? Not for everyone I know, but it's basically computer games for an hour, adapted to each individual child, so your DD could have an hour of maths (games), or divide the session between maths and English, SPAG etc. Our DD has loved it, and it has helped hugely in English which has been the area she's needed help in.

comfortseeker Sat 27-Feb-16 12:03:18

My dd too struggled with maths while at primary school. In yr 4 I bought a couple of children cookery books to encourage her to see the purposes of maths. Weekly she chose a recipe. So she would make a shopping list and find out the prices on supermarket website. Calculated the total amount and change. Then we went to shopping and she had to pay for the shopping by herself with cash. Then checked if she got the right change. At home she had to do the cooking or baking with the ingredients. The left overs would be used for next week and so on. She really loved the activity. Although she only got level4 at ks2 she s now at the top in middle set in a good comp. The maths teaching in secondary school suits her better. She now quite enjoy maths which i didnt think it would ever happen during ks2. According to her teacher she should be able to achieve a B or A or equivalent at GCSE. I m not qualified to give advice but just to say children learn and develope at different rate. Perhaps help your dd to develop more confidence and interest in the subject rather worry about ks level too much. Best wishes brewchocolate

DarkBlueEyes Sun 28-Feb-16 15:07:08

Some fabulous ideas thank you so much. I've bought the books, we've looked at the BBC Bitesize and we've had a chat with her, as well as organising a one on one extra tutoring session every week. And I will be doing a lot more baking with her I think! Will also try the lego and look for good you tube stuff (conquer maths needs Flash player, which is a pain).

Really appreciate the responses.

BlackBagTheBorderBinLiner Tue 01-Mar-16 11:51:45

We're using Maths Whizz here. It slowly builds on weak areas, accelerates where you're strong. Initially tried for a month during the summer holidays but now have a years subscription.

It's helping DD1 fill in some gaps and she's feeling more confident in class.
DD2 is a natural at maths but with dreadful handwriting, this really stretches her without having anything to do with presentation and allows her to work by herself at her own speed.

It also means I don't have to search the Internet for stuff and get frustrated because they are n't adding up the way my school taught me 30 years ago!

Independentandproud Sun 20-Mar-16 20:19:35

Explore Learning have been using SuccessMaker for a while and it is really good for children struggling. Small steps and lots of reward (aka cheering, strange characters doing flips or flying off in spaceships etc) and loads of positive feedback. Highly recommended.

MagicDucky Sun 20-Mar-16 20:29:07

I had the same problem when I was at school. My English, French, History, Geography, etc were excellent but my maths was abysmal. However my mum got me a private tutor who came to the house a couple of nights a week. It was a massive help, the fact it was just he and I meant there were no distractions and I really progressed. I still wasn't a mathematical genius at the end but I did get a good enough pass grade.

TeenAndTween Sun 20-Mar-16 20:43:53

My DD1, now aged 16, has always struggled to retain maths. (It turned out that she has dyspraxia which may or may not be related to this.)

Honestly sometimes at secondary she would look at me as if she had never heard about percentages, or multiplying fractions, or whatever, before in her life.

The only way to get things to stick was constant repetition and revisiting the topic. Although she would look blankly at me to start with, each time we revisited she would pick it up faster. We also broke things down into tiny steps, and used physical examples or props wherever we could.

But DD1 has always been willing to sit down and do the work, unlike DD2, who is also struggling ...

Anyway, to give you hope, DD1 eventually ended up with a very high B at GCSE. (Despite still being iffy on working with negative numbers.) And actually now 9 months on from GCSE does seem to have finally retained some of it. smile

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