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Can Home Edders help me with my DS.

(27 Posts)
Voidka Tue 06-Sep-11 20:27:53

My DS (10) is in school FT but I wondered if you would be able to give me some help regardless.

I want to be able to help my DS with his Maths. He enjoys it but he really wants to progress further and faster than he is by doing some extra work at home. I have no idea where to start and I cant afford a tutor. Having spoken to his teacher she seemed a bit vague. DS wants to study Maths at university so I need to help him now.

He has just started year 6. Is there anywhere I can look for resources on things I can work through with him.

Thank you in advance.

Saracen Wed 07-Sep-11 01:11:38

I would suggest going not further and faster, but instead deeper. That will be more fun and more similar to what your son will be doing at university if he studies maths there. It will also leave him less opportunity to be bored in the next few years through having completed the school curriculum already.

Marcus du Sautoy has been all over the TV lately with some great programmes about some of the fundamental concepts of mathematics. If you've missed those, he has written some good books and you can find some of his programmes on YouTube. I've listed a few, and you can google his name for lots more good stuff.

Someone on a home ed list recently introduced me to the many videos of an entertaining (if exhausting!) young woman called Vi Hart:
I thought my 11yo would enjoy these so I called her over to have a look. "Oh yeah," she said, "my friend showed me those last year. They're great, aren't they?"

If you need a little rest from Hart's manic style, you could slow down and puzzle your way through The Number Devil: A Mathematical Adventure by Hans Magnus Enzensberger or the classic Flatland: A Romance of Many Dimensions by Edwin Abbott Abbott.

Did your son do the Primary Mathematics Challenge at school last year? These are maths questions with a difference. There are past papers on the website which may be fun to do:

Well, that's the sort of thing that floats my boat and your son might like it too. Here's some of the rationale behind tackling these sorts of subjects rather than the ones he is probably getting at school:

Have fun!

musicposy Fri 09-Sep-11 00:06:50

My daughter read this book in Year 6 and loved it. She loves maths and was/is well ahead (a bit too far ahead to be practical or useful), so I was trying to broaden her out without just pushing her on too fast through the KS3 and GCSE curriculum. It's aimed at adults but a bright 10/11 year old will have no trouble with it. If he wants to do maths at uni these sorts of resources are excellent at stimulating mathematical thinking - much better than the school curriculum.

You could discuss each chapter afterwards and look for other examples in everyday life. There are other books in the series. I found it fascinating stuff <maths geek blush >

Betelguese Sat 10-Sep-11 16:57:03

Message withdrawn at poster's request.

Saracen Sat 10-Sep-11 21:36:19

Betelgeuse, I'm afraid I must disagree with all of the points you made!

You do not necessarily need a series of texts in order to learn mathematics. It is true that certain concepts won't make sense unless you've learned other concepts, but that doesn't apply to everything. And anyway, it doesn't have to be seen as a problem. You don't have to prevent a child from jumping around through all of mathematics as it takes his fancy. Gaps in understanding are no more to be feared than unexplored areas of his neighbourhood. When he has reason to go there, he'll fill them in. You don't have to learn about recursion, or even algebra, before playing around with fractals. There are things you can do with them even without fully understanding them. Through an interest in fractals you may be motivated to go learn about recursion or algebra in order to enjoy fractals better. This is an excellent way of learning, better than slogging through algebra because it is what comes next in the textbook and somebody has told you that you may not try anything else until you've mastered algebra. Nobody makes a would-be footballer do endless ball handling drills without ever letting him onto the pitch to play an actual game and become motivated to want to improve his ball handling skills with drills.

If you have found that you go rusty after being away from mathematics for more than two weeks, then that is because you did not understand the concept in the first place. Mathematical understanding is not such a fragile thing as you describe! People studying maths at university often have more than two weeks between terms, and I've never known anyone who felt compelled to study constantly in order not to go rusty. Nor is there any minimum amount of time which must be spent on maths every day. You're making this sound like a huge chore, whereas it should be a joy. If it isn't fun then it isn't a good use of Voidka's son's time at this moment, especially since he is bright and it sounds like he is not behind the rest of his class. He should do exactly as much as he wants to do, when he wants to do it. He will make great progress if he is interested.

After a strong early interest, my daughter studied no mathematics whatsoever between the ages of five and nine. Then she swallowed down huge gulps of it for a couple of months. Then she left it. She does not appear to have forgotten any of the concepts she had mastered earlier.

Using physical representations can be fun. Many people love it and some find it much easier to get hold of ideas that way. However, it is not essential for everyone. Many mathematicians have an excellent imagination and do it all in their heads, perhaps with a few sketches when things get tricky. By all means, the boy should have the chance to make things if that is what he likes to do, and you've listed some fantastic ideas above. But if he doesn't want to do those things, he'll be fine without them.

I'm sorry to come down on you like a tonne of bricks. It's just that I love mathematics and I feel that many people are put off by an overly prescriptive approach to it, such as is followed in most schools. Ask a mathematician how to learn maths, and in what order, and I am sure you will invariably get the answer: follow your curiosity. Sadly, it is exceptionally rare for a mathematician to teach maths in a school.

Betelguese Sun 11-Sep-11 00:29:39

Message withdrawn at poster's request.

Betelguese Sun 11-Sep-11 10:35:55

Message withdrawn at poster's request.

Saracen Mon 12-Sep-11 23:26:12

Well, Betelgeuse, I d.on't know how to account for the dramatically different experiences which you and I seem to have had at university. My classmates and I were well versed in the rather basic fare offered by our schools, and then each of us had explored maths in our own way beyond that. We had very different areas of knowledge, and that wasn't a problem. I don't know of anyone who followed a rigorous extracurricular programme outside of school.

Admittedly I only would have discussed the matter with maybe a dozen of my maths classmates, because most of my university friends were reading other subjects. But as I recall, in class people often showed what you might call "gaps" in their mathematical background. And they were different gaps for different people, so I didn't get the impression that everyone had studied a fixed set of material beyond the school-level basics. This wasn't considered anything to be ashamed of; the professor would just say to the person in question, "I suggest you read up on such-and-such; here's a text which I like" and we'd carry on.

The only things we all had in common were having a talent for maths and loving it.

... or is it possible there is a difference between the way people prepare for doing pure maths versus applied maths? Which did you do? My university drew a very strong (and perhaps misguided) distinction between pure and applied, to the point that I took no applied maths whatsoever. I can't even think whether it was possible to do a degree in applied maths at my university.

Anyway, we've probably left the poor OP more confused than ever now about how to help her son!

LastSummer Tue 13-Sep-11 00:04:07

At a slightly less lofty level of erudition, I suggest that Voidka's 10-year-old might enjoy exploring mathematical concepts and competing against other bright kids at The subscription is well worth the fun he'll have.

exoticfruits Tue 13-Sep-11 00:29:02

I think that you could do with enrichment this is a good site and you can send in your solutions.
Woodland Junior School maths zone has lots of games here
There is a site giving a list of Maths websites here

Betelguese Tue 13-Sep-11 10:17:38

Message withdrawn at poster's request.

Betelguese Tue 13-Sep-11 10:21:17

Message withdrawn at poster's request.

exoticfruits Tue 13-Sep-11 13:30:02

Sorry Betelguese-I don't know how I missed that you had already given a link. I think it particularly good because you can pick your level and it is real problem solving and you get the chance to send in your findings.

musicposy Wed 14-Sep-11 20:13:06

Betelguese, the only thing I would question about going faster, following the KS3 curriculum early, and then a GCSE early is, what happens then? I think the OP needs to ask that question before taking this route. I'll tell you why.

My DD1 has just done exactly what you suggest in maths, though she is 15. The colleges in the area were jumping over themselves to take her on for A level maths early. But, and here is where we came unstuck - there is no funding for her because she is under 16. It would have cost us over £1000 a year. Unless you have a particularly good secondary school who can facilitate this, you could find yourself with a child who wants to take A level maths, but has to wait possibly years before they can do it. Then what? Sit in class bored because all the work has been covered? Maths is a still a compulsory subject in school even if you took the GCSE at 13. Sitting in a class going over work you covered 3 years ago would have to be utterly soul destroying. Even if the secondary school could do it, do you really want your 13 year old boy in with a class of 17 year olds? It's easy to get swept up in the fact that you have a bright child who can do these things early, but you have to ask yourself not if they can, but if they should.

My DD2 is 12 and would be ready to take GCSE maths with only to tiniest amount of work. The local authority asked when they came round, why didn't I put her in for it? They could see by her work she was ready. I told them what I've said here - to what end? Unless I want her swanning off to uni at 14 and being a social fish out of water (I definitely don't) what's going to be the point of a qualification she got 6 years beforehand?

So I'm with Saracen. We too are on mathletics; you can pit yourself against children all over the world and it is inspiring and fun. DD2 also reads loads of maths interest books like the one I linked earlier. She's going to make a truly amazing mathematician one day, and she's enjoying every step, not following some rigid curriculum.

LastSummer Wed 14-Sep-11 23:36:32


My daughter will be ready to get a good IGSE in maths when she's 14 and perhaps A level maths at 16, if she aspires to do so. If my daughter gains another couple of A levels at that age, I'd be happy for her to head off to university if she so wishes. On the other hand, if maths is her only A level at 16, that will free her to concentrate on the languages that are her first love and perhaps net three more A levels at 17 or 18.
It's not so unusual for young mathematicians to be accepted for university at 16 or 17 and this might be a path that Voidka's son chooses to follow. If so, he's got GCSE maths, perhaps GCSE additional maths (which your daughters might also consider to hone their skills), A level maths, A level further maths and probably a daunting STEP examination ahead of him before going to university. Maths is a very wide subject and these exams lend structure to its study.
My little one, by the way, seems to have become a Mathletics junkie!

MMMarmite Thu 15-Sep-11 00:09:37

Good for your DS smile I strongly agree with Saracen from experience. I love maths, but if you work ahead on school curriculum it just makes school maths lessons deadly boring. Much better to explore mathematical ideas that aren't on the curriculum.

Code breaking is quite a fun way to play with maths. You could take him to Bletchley Park and learn about how the enigma machine worked. Sarah Flannery's book "In Code" is very good, though maybe better for slightly older kids - it depends how much he likes books.

LastSummer Thu 15-Sep-11 08:10:39


Betelguese Thu 15-Sep-11 12:18:31

Message withdrawn at poster's request.

Betelguese Thu 15-Sep-11 12:54:09

Message withdrawn at poster's request.

musicposy Thu 15-Sep-11 13:32:03

I am well aware that a child could go to uni early. I was asking the OP to consider whether they should, which is a different question. Young entrants, even if not the only ones, will still be very much a minority. Maybe your uni days were different to mine, but I spent a lot of time getting drunk, amongst other things!! It seems to me that going early would mean you miss out more than you gain, particularly socially.

However, if it's right for others, that's fine. I just said I wouldn't want my children going down that path when they can do so many exciting and broadening things at home that aren't just about ploughing through the curriculum, and enjoy being children whilst they are children.

Betelguese Thu 15-Sep-11 14:41:38

Message withdrawn at poster's request.

exoticfruits Thu 15-Sep-11 17:23:52

I can't imagine why anyone would want their DC to go to university early-I thiink it would be horrible for them socially. Much better to go off and volunteer for something and go at the same time as everyone else.

LastSummer Thu 15-Sep-11 17:36:06


But if children want to go to university early, should we stand in their way?

sieglinde Thu 15-Sep-11 17:36:14

Going back to the OP, have you considered Kumon? it's self-directed but really great and very structured.

exoticfruits Thu 15-Sep-11 17:39:06

Yes-absolutely LastSummer. Why do they need to go early? University isn't just the academic subject-they are not ready socially.

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