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If you are good at maths, but your child doesn't get it ...

(13 Posts)
AChickenCalledKorma Sun 16-Nov-14 17:45:33

DD2 is 9 and in Year 5. She's in the top-but-one group for maths. But I am really struggling to support her with maths homework. The fundamental problem is that I have never had any problems with numbers. They just always made sense to me. DH is a civil engineer who does tricky maths for fun. DD1 just "gets" it. DD2 just doesn't. Numbers make her panic, she's decided it's "hard" and "boring".

She does appear to understand the methods. She can explain that to multiply by 100 you move the numbers two spaces left. She can do column addition and subtraction, but her mental maths is shocking. She knows all her number bonds, but still counts on her fingers when she needs to do a sum. (And half the time she miscounts.) She knows that 6+4=10 but looks at me like I'm a loony if I suggest that she can use that information to do 60+40.

We've just spent a painful half hour on place value and decimals, during which she assured me that 2.1 x 100 = 200.1 and 458/100 = 458 hmm.

I'm sure she picks up on my inability to understand her struggles, which clearly doesn't help. We both get frustrated. I can't decide whether she really can't do it or whether it's just a major mental block. I need some ideas to get inside her head and understand why numbers cause her such confusion!

ArchangelGallic Sun 16-Nov-14 17:49:53

It might be a bit of both.
I remember my mom making a real effort to drum my multiplication tables into me at age 7 and having to draw number lines for me to explain negative numbers. Even now I'm not confident and often work sums out backwards to most people. I did get a grade A at GCSE though, so don't despair.

Maybe you need to check with her teacher to see what methods they use in school so you can support her in a manner consistent with the classroom. Also, people learn in different ways - does she need pictures to understand or does it help to move things around?

ArchangelGallic Sun 16-Nov-14 17:55:13

Maths is like this for me!

fuzzpig Sun 16-Nov-14 17:58:51

I wish I knew what to suggest. My DD doesn't get maths at all either. Whereas before I got ill I was doing a maths degree.

I am just trying to boost her confidence at the moment. When I find something she can do, we run with it, iyswim.

We do mental maths stuff on the way to school, she really enjoys that, and yet when it's time to do her homework she flies into a strop sad

TeenAndTween Sun 16-Nov-14 18:45:38

With DD1 (now aged 15) I finally learned how to help her. Break it into 10 tiny steps.
Then break each tiny step down again! Lots of practical stuff where possible, using physical items. e.g. for decimals use coins.

DD2 is y5 also. Her maths isn't yet good enough for me to help her much.sad

ashtrayheart Sun 16-Nov-14 18:57:21

Conquermaths is good and covers all age groups. Mine enjoy this kind of visual learning.

skylark2 Sun 16-Nov-14 20:08:12

"She knows that 6+4=10 but looks at me like I'm a loony if I suggest that she can use that information to do 60+40."

We did a lot (and I mean a lot, over a period of years) of "what's six apples + four apples? Okay, what's six oranges + four oranges? So what's six tens + four tens?"

DD got an A* at GCSE. She (wisely, IMO) did not take maths at A level.

sneepy Mon 17-Nov-14 11:44:06

I've got a book called Maths for Mums and Dads. It explains all the methods they use at school and has been invaluable (so far, dd1 in y4). Might be helpful to look at the different methods and find which ones work for your dd? Also if she's in the second group she can't be doing too badly!!

Baytree Mon 17-Nov-14 13:04:33

My daughter is a visual spatial learner. She is strong in things that basically involve looking, such as working out the area of a square, multiplication, putting numbers in order of size in the millions etc..

If your daughter is similar you are probably teaching her in a stepwise way-they just dont get this and get frustrated. What does work is to write out an example of a problem with the answer to show the whole picture upfront rather than the stepwise reveal.

They then work it out for themselves. So in your above example you need to write:
6+4=10 60+40=100 600+400=1000

Is your daughter good at music? I often use music to help. So when you have to work out a sequence you sing or drum each number and they get it.

It is also important to not say "no good at maths". Maths is a big subject so it is better to say "brilliant at column addition" "working on arithmatic"

titchy Mon 17-Nov-14 18:18:42

It sounds like she hasn't got the basics tbh. She needs to know WHY 60 + 40 is 100 given that 6+4 is 10. You all intuitively get that, so you're teaching her methods and shortcuts. What she needs is the underlying understanding - the why not the how or what. That should come once the basic understanding of how numbers work is secure. So eg number line from 1-10, to see why 6 plus 4 is 10. Then divide each bit of the line into 10, so the 6 - 10 becomes 60-40.

Thehedgehogsong Mon 17-Nov-14 18:24:39

I used to teach year 5 maths and I told them for sums like 12.4 x 10 they should picture the 1, 2 and 4 digits all linking arms and refusing to be separated, and all taking one step left together. It stops answers like 120.4 because the 4 isn't with the other digits anymore. I made a big deal about getting them linking arms and stepping left together. Visual learner will not be able to listen to the explanation and apply it, they need to see it.
Would that help?

mummytime Mon 17-Nov-14 19:00:53

I would start by looking at the work of Jo Boaler start here, who has done a lot of research into developing a Growth Mindset in Maths.

AChickenCalledKorma Wed 19-Nov-14 16:37:25

Thanks all. That's given me a few useful things to think about. ArchangelGallic I love that photo! Physics was like that for me. Maths not so much but I totally get it!!

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