Helping children aged seven to eight with maths at home
Most parents find helping with English fairly easy, but faced with a request for help with maths homework, we're often filled with dread.
But nowadays maths is more about collaboration and discussion - children are even allowed to use calculators! It is still very important, though, for them to learn to add, subtract, multiply and divide.
It is also necessary for children to develop number sense - this comes with understanding and practice.
Play is an essential part of maths, and board games are important. Games such as Monopoly can be very useful, as children learn to handle large denominations of money.
Ludo and dominoes help them perfect strategies that give them the edge, such as which dominoes to get rid of early and those that offer many options for play.
It can help to play 'higher/lower'. You will need three sets of cards numbered 1 to 9. Shuffle them all together. Each player takes 3 cards and then makes the largest number they can (eg 5, 1, 9 – largest number is 951). They must say the number that they have made. The next person takes 3 numbers (eg 1, 9, 6 – largest number is 961). If it's higher than the first number, put it above; if not, it goes below. Do this several times, ensuring they're kept in the right order.
Children must be able to explain why the numbers are put in their position and explain what each digit represents (eg 641 is 6 hundreds, 4 tens and 1 unit).
Children often find ordering difficult. For example, if asked to make 132, some will write 10032, so these explanations are important.
Counting on and back
Counting on and back is still very important for children of this age and helps to reinforce their understanding. For example: count on from 100 in 2s, 5s, 10s. Count back in 100s from 1000 or 740, etc.
Getting children used to handling money is important. Take them shopping with £1 pocket money. What can they get for 20p, 50p, etc? How much change do they expect? Is it correct? How much have they left? (Don't make the amounts too difficult, though, be guided by your child.)
Multiplication and division
Multiplication and division can be discussed in simple contexts. For example: If one spider has 8 legs, how many have 2, 4? We have 10 sandwiches and 5 people. How many sandwiches each? How can we make sure we all get the same number?
If you are working on fractions, once again there are many practical situations. For example: Give half your cake to your friend. Divide the pizza into quarters – how many pieces each?
Children may well talk about number lines. You can use these to reinforce school work by doing some of these tasks.
For example: There are 2 cakes in each box – how many in 12?
+ 2 + 2 + 2 + 2 + 2 + 2 + 2 + 2 + 2 + 2 + 2 + 2 (counting in 2s)
0 – 2 – 4 – 6 – 8 – 10 – 12 – 14 – 16 – 18 – 20 – 22 – 24 (number line)
12 × 2 = 24
I have 42 cakes, I can fit 6 in each box. How many boxes do I need?
+ 6 + 6 + 6 + 6 + 6 + 6 + 6 (counting in 6s)
0 – 6 – 12 -18 – 24 – 30 – 36 – 42 (number line)
42 divided by 6 = 7 boxes. Repeat using different numbers.
Another way to reinforce division facts is to show that division is the inverse of multiplication. Your child can work out division tasks by using their knowledge of multiplication facts. For example:
7 × 10 = 70
70 ÷ 10 =7
70 ÷ 7 =10
An outdoor thermometer is a useful way to introduce negative numbers in winter. It helps children to see their use in real-life situations.
Number fridge magnets are also useful. Put calculations such as 8 x 9 = ? on the fridge and wait for your child to complete them.
Maths is essential for so many careers - medicine, engineering, law or technology, to name but a few - and for coping with day-to-day life, which is why it's important we reinforce number skills at home (and don't shirk our maths homework).