Advanced search

Y3 ds doesn't know his number bonds to 10...

(37 Posts)
MerryMarigold Mon 09-Sep-13 16:50:30

Just feel so down about this. His teacher came up to me today and asked me to go over them with him as she had tried to do this at lunch isn't lunchtime for playing/ winding down and he couldn't manage. He's nearly 8! Ds2 who is 4 nearly knows his number bonds to 10.

He's worked really hard this holidays (relatively speaking). He managed his 3x table in the end and started joined up writing. It's so slow to get him to learn and then he forgets so quickly. It's frustrating for me, let alone for him.

Sorry, just had to vent as he is now playing around a friend's house and I want to get the 'upset' out of my system. If anyone's had experience of this, please share!

LaLaLeBouef Sun 15-Sep-13 14:40:08

Message withdrawn at poster's request.

mathanxiety Sat 14-Sep-13 23:29:44

I just ran across this while wasting time on Pinterest - multiplication for 6x, 7x, 8x and 9x using fingers

Actually, you can go up to 10 x 10, thinking about it.

mumteacher Fri 13-Sep-13 09:53:50

I haven't read all the posts just op

Put two rings on a table (bangles/coasters) and using pasta or orange segments say to your son both circles have to have a total of 10. Let him play with different options.

He may start with 1 in the first circle and 2 in the second. Let him get use to the idea.

Once he gets the hang of it a few times - it may take a few days the next stage is for him to write the sum in front of him.
On a piece of paper I like to write + and = I then place these two signs in between the circle so he can see exactly how the sum comes about and how to translate on paper.

If you let him play this game independently he may not forget so quickly.

Daily practice is the key - writing is not always necessary.

Magrug Fri 13-Sep-13 01:57:52

You've had lots of good advice which I won't bother adding to, but just wanted to say how kind it was of your DS's teacher to try to help him during her lunch break when she could probably have done with a few minutes winding down and a brew . smile DC#1 had a teacher like that and I have never stopped thanking them. As parents, we're quick to hmm and take proactive teachers for granted, when actually there aren't as many as we would like out there.

mathanxiety Thu 12-Sep-13 20:43:50

Sometimes children do better if they know the big picture, not just each little disjointed part. Some can understand tables if they are presented with multiplication and division at the same time.

mathanxiety Thu 12-Sep-13 20:13:56

It seems very unimaginative and illogical to do it by disjointed lists as your teacher seems to be doing. There isn't really any teaching of a concept there.

MerryMarigold Wed 11-Sep-13 10:53:21

Thanks so much Ferguson. Lego is a great idea and we have loads of it. He loves lego so I hope it feels less 'work-y'.

Fairenuff, the 9x table thing, my sister showed me something with fingers which was similar! I prefer this as it's written down. However, he never remembers that 11x table is just the number written twice 11x2=22, 11x3=33. SO, not sure he's going to get this. The teacher says she is only expecting instant recall (out of sequence) on 2,3,4,5,8,10 by the end of Y3. I think Y4 will be 6,7,9,11,12.

I think I always 'got' concepts quite easily, which ds1 doesn't so I am always trying to remember how it feels to totally not understand something (mine would be instructions on electronic appliances!).

CeliaFate Wed 11-Sep-13 09:39:21

Get 2 pieces of A4 paper and ten pennies. Divide the ten pennies between the 2 sheets of paper in different ways.
That way he'll see that the total amount doesn't alter and they can be shared in different ways.

Fairenuff Wed 11-Sep-13 08:23:29

It only works up to 9x9 btw but 10 and 11 are easy anyway.

Fairenuff Wed 11-Sep-13 08:21:59

9 x tables

The answer always adds up to 9 (sort of)

1 x 9 = 9
2 x 9 = 18 (1+8) is 9
3 x 9 = 27 (2+7)
4 X 9 = 36 (3+6)

Also, the first number in the answer is one less that the first number in the question

2 x 9 (one less than two is 1 so it's 1 and 8) = 18
3 x 9 (one less than three is 2 so it's 2 and 7) = 27
4 x 9 (one less than four is 3 so it's 3 and 6) = 36

It sounds complicated but I learned it when I was about 7 and it helped me. Some children need to see visual patterns, some can visualise them in their head, some can remember rhymes, some need objects to move around. Use all the strategies and at least one of them will work, I'm sure.

mathanxiety Tue 10-Sep-13 20:51:27

One nice thing about cuisenaire rods is they allow for simultaneously doing multiplication and division, manipulating number families, which makes more sense for some children than coping with a series of lists to learn, one after the other (addition tables, followed by subtraction, multiplication, division, starting with 1 and ending with 12 in each case). You can see how addition and subtraction are related, and how multiplication is related to addition and to division.

I agree with Ferguson's suggestions, especially trying to point out patterns among the numbers (2, 4, 8 -- 3, 6, 9 --- 5, 10).
7 is a bit irregular, and 12 can go in the 2 group or the 3 group.
11 can be learned quite easily.

I found when the DCs were small they loved doubles in addition (2 + 2 etc) and harnessed that enthusiasm to explore subtraction of doubles (2 - 2, etc)

I second the dyscalculia book.

defineme Tue 10-Sep-13 19:41:47

Numicon really really helped my visual learner-does his school have a set?

mrz Tue 10-Sep-13 19:38:26

mrz Tue 10-Sep-13 19:34:02

Quincejelly Tue 10-Sep-13 19:33:18

Thanks for that book tip, Marigold!

I´m going to look into cuisinaire rods too!

Ferguson Tue 10-Sep-13 19:04:12

You have already had plenty of good advice, but I will add some info that I have sent to several parents in the past. Learning to "see" the pattern in your mind is, I think, easier than having to remember poems!


Practical things are best for grasping number concepts - bricks, Lego, beads, counters, money, shapes, weights, measuring, cooking.

Do adding, taking away, multiplication (repeated addition), division (sharing), using REAL OBJECTS as just 'numbers' can be too abstract for some children.

Number Bonds of Ten forms the basis of much maths work, so try to learn them. Using Lego or something similar, use a LOT of bricks (of just TWO colours, if you have enough) lay them out so the pattern can be seen of one colour INCREASING while the other colour DECREASES. Lay them down, or build up like steps.


ten of one colour none of other
nine of one colour one of other
eight of one colour two of other
seven of one colour three of other

etc, etc

then of course, the sides are equal at 5 and 5; after which the colours 'swap over' as to increasing/decreasing.

To learn TABLES, do them in groups that have a relationship, thus:

x2, x4, x8

x3, x6, x12

5 and 10 are easy

7 and 9 are rather harder.

Starting with TWO times TABLE, I always say: "Imagine the class is lining up in pairs; each child will have a partner, if there is an EVEN number in the class. If one child is left without a partner, then the number is ODD, because an odd one is left out."

Use Lego bricks again, lay them out in a column of 2 wide to learn 2x table. Go half way down the column, and move half the bricks up, so that now the column is 4 bricks wide. That gives the start of 4x table.

Then do similar things with 3x and 6x.

With 5x, try and count in 'fives', and notice the relationship with 'ten' - they will alternate, ending in 5 then 10.

It is important to try and UNDERSTAND the relationships between numbers, and not just learn them 'by rote'.

I am sorry it seems complicated trying to explain these concepts, but using Lego or counters should make understanding easier.

An inexpensive solar powered calculator (no battery to run out!) can help learn tables by 'repeated addition'. So: enter 2+2 and press = to give 4. KEEP PRESSING = and it should add on 2 each time, giving 2 times table.

There are good web sites, which can be fun to use :


You probably don't need all of the above, but just use what seems relevant to his needs.

MerryMarigold Tue 10-Sep-13 18:56:18

Quince. Have you read "Is That My Child?" (Robin Pauc). I read it this summer and The Brain Food Plan. Rang a lot of bells. I am trying to gradually alter his diet (he's also extremely fussy with food) and give him some supplements in the hope that it will help his memory and just make his school life a bit more pleasant.

Thanks for all the websites. We did some work today - he seems to enjoy it when it's on the computer. It's just hard to know where to start as he's basically behind in everything (not just Maths) so we need to do other things too like writing and spelling and he's very tired after school having worked his brain hard all day.

It's encouraging to know I am not alone and also that there have been success stories...thank you.

educatingarti Tue 10-Sep-13 18:45:58

I'd also agree with using cuisinaire rods - they give a colour and size "peg" to hang the learning of the information on. I make "sum sandwiches - using the orange 10 rods as bread and getting the children to record which two colours (and therefore numbers) will fit exactly in between as teh filling!

this book has some great ideas on other ways to use the cuisinaire rods to learn number bonds and explore many other areas of number.

mathanxiety Tue 10-Sep-13 16:31:04

This site has a few links to other helpful hints, as well as tips.

Look into cuisenaire rods?

When someone is having trouble memorising tables, they generally need to spend a lot of time (often supervised) working on that area before it sinks in. 'A lot of time' may mean hours every day, with arithmetic sprinkled into conversations and everyday activities on top of interesting activities. You will need to invest a lot of time in this yourself.

I had to do this with DD4 and it was like pulling teeth at first as she had already got her back up about maths in general (about age 8). I ended up bribing her - paid her weekly to empty the dishwasher when she came home from school every day, fill it up again with anything in the sink, do her homework before I got home, and then do maths activities with me once I got in and put dinner on. I introduced the non-maths activities into the job description to keep the focus off 'how bad DD4 was at maths' (her belief about herself) and also to show her that she could get good at something if she did it daily, and do something without having to think about it much once it became a habit, and also to give myself some time so that I could do activities with her.

Quincejelly Tue 10-Sep-13 15:56:07

Hi Marigold!
As I just wrote on my thread about my dd, it really sounds as if our children are very similar. Even down to my 4 year old who can do it all with no problems!
My dds problems with number bonds, times tables and everything else is that she learns the things and within a month it has all gone completely from her memory. She has to learn it again and it´s as if she has never seen it before in her life.
We also do five or ten minutes a day, but it feels as if it´s all for nothing as she then forgets it totally.
We spent the whole of the summer holidays learning the four times table, then she got into school and apparently could remember very little of it.
As you say, it upsets me and I think she is just getting more and more frustrated not to mention VERY tired as it´s such a struggle for her.
No constructive help - but at least neither of us is alone!
Hugs to you and ds!

PastSellByDate Tue 10-Sep-13 15:16:15

Hi Merrymarigold

Absolutely have been there myself with DD1 - we resolved it by joining an on-line tutorial.

Lots of us have posted our praises here on MN for

mathsfactor: - which we use
maths whizz:

We found that the issue really was that DD1 was a visual learner and also learned best through doing. We put in about an hour a week regularly doing maths on-line (well I turn on the machine & drift about in the background now - I helped type at first) - and it has made an unbelievable difference for her very much for the positive.

Other web sites that are a great help:

Woodlands Junior School Maths Zone: - just select the area you are interested in working in and then there are all sorts of links to useful games. Takes a bit of hunting and trial and error (I tend to try out games first) - but really useful.

Also recommend Maths champs (link from mumsnet learning): - have him start with games for 5 - 7 - to build essential skills & confidence and then move up when ready.


Annanon Tue 10-Sep-13 13:49:06

I agree that the songs don't cover everything. However, pairs to 10 was an achievable bitesize starting point, which boosted my dc's confidence before moving on.

Like others, we also use numicon at home and play shut the box. There is a game called beat the octopus on tes iboard activity finder, which is also a fun way to practice for instant recall. I'm not a teacher, but as a parent I've found it useful.

richmal Tue 10-Sep-13 13:07:20

I used to do one times table fact every day with dd on the way to school then check she'd remembered it some time on the journey home.

MerryMarigold Tue 10-Sep-13 12:38:08

Thanks so much for all your ideas. Basically he dies know them but doesn't know them on quick recall. Mrz, he has certainly known them in the past on quick recall but has obviously forgotten, which is what made me despair as he has been doing this since reception. What hope does he have of learning times tables or indeed any facts, when he forgets so quickly? I feel sorry for him and frustrated, but I will certainly try out the websites and make a few minutes a day for memory stuff.

cingolimama Tue 10-Sep-13 11:42:54

OP, I really really sympathise. I had the same problem with DD, who is otherwise extremely bright. For whatever reason, and I think it was down to low expectations, lack of confidence and bad teaching - she just didn't get it in Y3. I put my head in my hands - I might have even cried.

BUT, you can turn this around. In fact, you must. All it takes is a commitment to practise, practise, practise. And it won't be forever - just until your DC can get over this hump and masters his number bonds. And BTW, number bonds to 10 don't just mean all the numbers adding up to 10 - it means also knowing what 3+5=, and 2+7=, etc.

Personally, I would avoid anything gimmicky like songs. Children actually need to know their number bonds and times tables as independent facts, rather than mentally sing a song to remember. My suggestion is to work little and often, rather than a big session on the weekend. If you could do 10 minutes a day, using mathsheets (free from or if you/DC prefer I've found the website Komodo extremely helpful, as it's not gimmicky at all and focuses on basic numeracy Komodo has a small monthly charge but might offer a free trial.

If your DC can start to feel confident about his skills, you'll see a huge change. And it doesn't take too long. Try the 10 minutes a day routine for 3-4 weeks and see the difference in his knowledge and confidence.

I want to encourage you - don't despair. My DD has made a lot of progress and is now working with the next-to-top group (after being at the bottom for most of Y2/Y3). I wish you the best of luck, Merry.

Join the discussion

Join the discussion

Registering is free, easy, and means you can join in the discussion, get discounts, win prizes and lots more.

Register now