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Differences between UK and US maths curriculum

(15 Posts)
Jthan Fri 20-May-16 15:44:19

Hi everyone, this is my first post!

I've been helping teach my 5 son at home for some time now, and have found computer games to be a very useful tool to help with maths in particular. However, many of the best ones are made in America.

Although this has not produced any problems so far, I am worried that at some point the US and UK curriculums might differ so much as to cause confusion. For example, I know that the way long addition is taught in the UK today is different than the way it used to be when I was young. I was taught to add units first, then tens etc. Now kids are apparently taught to work out the sum the opposite way, working out the units last.

Does anyone know if there might come a point where the US math curriculum is so different that playing games based on it might actually cause confusion? If so, what might I need to be wary of, or at what stage do you think it would be best to start sticking to games made in the UK?

Many thanks for any answers!

JinRamen Fri 20-May-16 16:41:39

My kids are in the UK and they add the units first. Why on earth would you add the units last? That is bizarre! Or do you mean that chunking method? (May have got terminology wrong!) as in 34+56 =30+50
Next line ----> 4+6?

Jthan Fri 20-May-16 17:30:47

Yeah, I guess that's what I mean. It's not a method I learned when I was in school.

Book1234 Sat 21-May-16 11:50:39

The UK curriculum has a few methods for teaching calculation - schools may have their own calculation policy which outline it. More of a focus on 'formal' written methods now though - e.g. column

noblegiraffe Sat 21-May-16 12:29:34

If you're doing a written column method you start on the right with the units. If you are doing a mental method you tend to start on the left.

irvineoneohone Sat 21-May-16 13:09:03

My ds uses both English and US websites. I think if you understand the concept/process properly, you don't get confused.

Balletgirlmum Sat 21-May-16 13:14:42

My two children have been taught several ways to do addition, long multiplication etc & encouraged to use whichever method they find easiest.

Dd uses Khan Academy a lot & her maths teacher reccomends it.

PrincessHairyMclary Sat 21-May-16 13:22:34

As a TA I think the more tools a child has the better as long as it comes to the same answer. In written work they will have to do it the school way that's all.

Jthan Tue 24-May-16 07:31:24

Those are some helpful answers, thanks a lot! Good to know there's nothing to worry about.

AcademiaNut Tue 24-May-16 23:51:42

UK schools now refer to the 'units' as the 'ones'. If you're using different mathematical vocabulary on that particular aspect, it may be own confusing. Teaching both alternatives would be better.

I have found a number of excellent US maths resources. I'd not jujitsu myself to one programme and wouldn't rely on computer based resources - particularly at that age. Dienes apparatus (google it), Numicon, a bus with wooden people (for addition, subtraction / worded problems), an abacus with permanent pen to indicate the place values, etc. are all fabulous hands-on materials that'll give a younger child a sound understanding of abstract concepts.

Saracen Wed 25-May-16 00:35:03

I agree with Princess. Surely if children are confused by being taught several methods to approach a problem, that indicates there is an overemphasis on rote computation. There isn't a right method and a wrong method. If they grasp the concepts they will know there are various ways to compute an answer and be able to choose the easiest.

Jthan Fri 10-Jun-16 15:37:40

AcademiaNut Thanks for the tips. I didn't know they were calling the units "ones" now, that should save some trouble.

I have tried a few of those non-computer teaching methods and but have simply not managed to get my son particularly enthused about them. Other subjects I can usually teach myself or sometimes with the aid of videos, but maths just seems to work so much more easily with computer games and his level of understanding has improved massively through them. I'm curious to know why you think these games might be doing harm at this stage.

irvineoneohone Fri 10-Jun-16 16:30:20

What we do is, we signed up to one of British paid site that follows NC.
We use mixture of British and US free sites, but I make sure ds follows NC on that site, and rest is up to him, so he won't get any gaps in knowledge, and learn correct term used in England.

OneStressBall Fri 10-Jun-16 18:03:11

Hello Jthan
I didn't say anything about 'harm' being done. In fact, they can be quite good in terms of encouraging motivation, rapid mental recall, demonstrating methods through cartoon-like images that appear more interesting than watching a parent or teacher write on a white board, etc. There's certainly some value in computer-based learning.
However, it's no substitution and certainly not sufficient on its own without teaching younger children to understand with concrete methods, use realia (Dienes apparatus, place value equipment, etc.) and application to written methods. Children need to apply their mathematical skills in written from, read and interpret questions on paper and, most importantly, have a concrete understanding of abstract concepts.

irvineoneohone Fri 10-Jun-16 19:32:46

Op, I didn't realize your ds was only 5. Yes, I do agree with OneStressBall that at that age, non-computer based stuff is also important.
My ds used to play with lots of educational maths toys in early years, which helped him understand the concept deeply. He used to play with fraction toys when he was younger,(like making whole with different parts,etc.) So by the time he encountered fraction as a maths, he understood it straight away.
Same for use of abacus. He didn't need so much explanation about place values because he already knew what it was before he learned the words like ones, tens, etc. He loved using numicons in reception.
Those are equally important.
My ds only started using maths website when he was 6/7.

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