# Talk

## 5 year old maths/number understanding

(89 Posts)
nordicwannabe Sat 17-Feb-18 16:10:48

My academic IQ is probably around top 0.5 - 1% of the population. So I'm not a genius by any means, but I'm used to understanding academic things easily.

I have a 5 year old DD (in Reception). A few people have told me she's clever, but sometimes I find myself really doubting it So I wanted to run this by you guys. She's obviously not gifted the way kids are when described on here - but given my own IQ I'd expect her to be reasonably far to the right of the bell-curve, and I'm looking for reassurance from people (who hopefully won't judge me for the question) that this behaviour doesn't rule that out!

Today, I was trying to show her what the digits 'mean' in written numbers. We have one of these posters with all the numbers up to 100 in lines of 10. I explained that the first digit shows how many groups of 10 there are (showed her on the poster) and that the second digit shows how many 'extra' there are. So far, so good. She seemed to get that, and was able to express a few numbers that way.

But then I was tried to show her how you can use that in sums (this was all in the context of a pocket money calculation!) And it all went wrong. She was struggling to subtract 8 from 20, so I showed her on the poster how you can just subtract it from 10 (which she can do) and then add the result back on to the other 10. And I tried to show her that you can do the same thing when subtracting from 40 or 50 or 60.. But she didn't get it, and just started saying random numbers!

This seems to me a fairly fundamental concept - what a number means, and how you can manipulate it.

Please don't blast me - of course I don't mind how clever she is. But I do recognise that her life will be easier if she's clever 'enough' and tbh I also find it strange when she doesn't understand things. Is it just that my expectations are out of whack, or is she actually not that great at maths?

AssassinatedBeauty Sat 17-Feb-18 16:17:16

Your expectations are out of whack and you aren't a primary maths teacher (I'm assuming) and there are probably many better ways to teach that concept.

SheepyFun Sat 17-Feb-18 16:20:37

I'm pretty sure my DD (same age and stage as yours) couldn't do 20-8. And both DH and I each have more than one degree in a highly numerate subject from Oxbridge - not to brag, just to put DD in context. So I think your expectations are a bit off - our DD definitely isn't struggling in maths, and we aren't worried about her.

twinone Sat 17-Feb-18 16:21:27

I wouldn't expect a 5 year old to get that.
Are they not working on number bonds to 10 at that age?

Mol1628 Sat 17-Feb-18 16:23:16

Yep your expectations are out of whack.

Fekko Sat 17-Feb-18 16:24:30

Of you want to help - ask her teacher how they are learning numbers.

crunchtime Sat 17-Feb-18 16:25:20

she's 5

if she grasps that the first digit means ten and the second digit means one then she is doing well

stop trying to make her do things that she will learn in ks2

noblegiraffe Sat 17-Feb-18 16:28:30

You're trying to teach your 5 year old that 20 - 8 = 10-8+10?
Yeah, that sort of manipulation won't make sense. If she's beyond counters and physical manipulation for addition and subtraction, then try moving to number lines.

wonderstar1216 Sat 17-Feb-18 16:29:06

Ks2 a little extreme! Year 1 maybe! Ask for the school's calculation policy and follow their rules!

DonkeyOil Sat 17-Feb-18 16:38:50

I'm sure you wouldn't say anything, but do guard against letting her know that she's not doing as well as you think she should be, even by your expression. There's nothing like giving a child the perception that they're not good at something to make it a self-fulfilling prophesy.

nordicwannabe Sat 17-Feb-18 17:07:06

OK - seems pretty unanimous that my expectations are wrong!

I'm really not trying to make her do anything - just explaining number-related things to her as I do with anything else. It seemed strange to me when she didn't 'get' it, so I'm glad to know that this is OK. sheepy, your message is particularly reassuring!

noblegiraffe - yes, I suppose she would need to understand that. I expected that she would be able to just 'see' it on the poster, with the lines of 10 numbers - but obviously not! I'll look at number lines, if that's a clearer way to explain things. Thank you.

Donkey - I pretty much assume she should be able to do things, which I guess is the problem I'll be very careful.

Thank you all.

fizzicles Sat 17-Feb-18 18:03:51

She needs to start with concrete examples. So have 20 objects and take 8 away, for your example, and count how many are left. Abstract understanding will come later.

Quartz2208 Sat 17-Feb-18 18:08:23

I think you run the risk of massively confusing her and going against how she is taught in reception

My IQ is marginally higher and my 5 year old grasps 2+2 and 3+3 and that is it. My 8year old did not grasp 20-8 at 5 and now she is streaks ahead at maths

I'm not sure, I don't think it's completely off. Ds and Dd both have an IQ around 130 ( so top 2.5% I think ?) Dd could count to 20 before school and Ds could do single digit addition and subtraction the summer before reception. It would seem to me that this was just putting those 2 skills together ? They do times tables in year 2 so must have addition in tens and units sorted by the end of year one ?

AssassinatedBeauty Sat 17-Feb-18 18:35:12

No one knows what the OPs child's IQ is though. No one would expect an average reception age child to be able to instantly pick up what the OP was trying to explain. It may well turn out that the child is simply of around average intelligence, or not particularly gifted at maths. Which is fine.

Eppia Sat 17-Feb-18 18:36:56

Stop worrying! She’s fine and already doing very well by the sound of it. My DS has a similar IQ to yours (tested for reasons I won’t go into here), and understood this concept in reception only because I happened to have picked up some Cuisinaire rods in a charity shop - best buy ever, as DS loved them (Google them).
They’re colourful little wooden rods (certain colours for certain numbers) that can be held and placed next to each other, making it much easier for children to understand abstract ideas. Once the number bonds up to 10 are secure, the rest will probably come quickly.
The rods are rather lovely - I was very fond of them and miss them now! (They went back to the charity shop when DS didn’t need them anymore.)
The thing is, even very clever children can take a while to understand some concepts! I suspect you are just used to her understanding everything quickly. DS liked playing with the rods and that helped, as he sometimes resisted when he cottoned on to the fact I was trying to teach him something. That was a bit of a shock, as when he was smaller, he’d hang onto every word!

noblegiraffe Sat 17-Feb-18 19:09:08

For children, addition and subtraction starts with concrete things like counters. Then they need to move onto counting forwards and backwards - usually on their fingers. Then they can move onto counting forwards and backwards on a number line (really important to get the idea of addition and subtraction as directions). Tricks like in the OP of bouncing around the number line should only come once children are really familiar with the number system. Place value regarding addition and subtraction is quite complicated!

So Noble when would a typically developing child be familiar with the number system ?

I used to get so frustrated that DD couldn't understand this blindingly obvious to me concept. She got it during Y1 but it was commented on at parents' evening as being something she was unusually good at. The teachers probably hadn't realised I'd been banging on about it at home for months.

noblegiraffe Sat 17-Feb-18 19:23:45

Don't know, you need a primary school teacher

Have a look at this KS1 maths SATs paper for where they are at the end of Y2 though. Most kids by then will have some appreciation of counting in tens for addition and subtraction and some will be starting to do column addition and subtraction. www.gov.uk/government/uploads/system/uploads/attachment_data/file/526125/KS1_Mathematics_Paper_1_arithmetic_PDFA.pdf

Forgeteverythingandremember Sat 17-Feb-18 19:32:41

Message withdrawn at poster's request.

grasspigeons Sat 17-Feb-18 19:41:29

I don't have a clue what my IQ is but I spend a lot of time around children. I'd leave maths teaching to school as they tend to do the concrete, pictorial abstract sequence when teaching concepts and spend a lot of time making sure a child is secure in what a number is. At 5 id be asking what's one more than, or one less than at the supermarket and counting on from different start points.

Ivebeenaroundtheblock Sat 17-Feb-18 19:52:22

You can probably give her 20 smarties and tell her to give 8 away to you and ask her how many she has left for herself and she could probably tell you.
My toddlers were amazing with chocolate, not so much will a wall chart.

Nyetimber Sat 17-Feb-18 19:54:22

Y experience is that very bright children generally work things out for themselves so don’t need drilling in abstract concepts. Stick with her driving the level of learning. Button boxes to gain experience of patters, chopping fruit and vegetables to understand fractions. Any home teaching should be part and parcel of everyday life.

Bear2014 Sat 17-Feb-18 19:58:06

My 4 year old might on a good day be able to do 20-8. BUT the way you explained it to her was so confusing you almost lost me

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