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Maths homework aaargh, I get so frustrated.

(31 Posts)
AfroditeJones Sun 23-Feb-14 12:09:46

I am sorry if I will come across as nasty but I get so frustrated when helping dd (Y2) with her homework.
Her maths is very basic, she struggles even with basic counting on her fingers or beads and can't do any calculation mentally, no even a simple one.
Ask her 5+0 and she will answer 8.
She can't learn the 0 or 1 timetables nevermind the other numbers.
I didn't want to introduce websites as I was holding back and see if she could learn the traditional way, besides she has a leapfrog tablet with some maths games but she hates it and never plays.
Anyway, I am now considering online tutoring as I can't afford a real person. Went into MyMaths suggested by the school but the password the teacher gave us is not working so I have to wait until tomorrow, meanwhile I tried another one ( with a lady, forgot her name) and we did some trial lessons and dd had to do the pre-school ones and even that has been kind of hard.
I feel a failure as a mother, did I do anything wrong or should I have done more during the formative years? dd has been going to nursery since she is 2. Her life has always been filled with opportunities to learn and etc..
Her school was rated outstanding last year and it is addressing her dyslexia, I was always told she is progressing as she should, but I am not so sure and I think at least in Maths she is way behind, Am I wrong??

Anyone has experience with MyMaths or other online tutorial program?
I don't mind paying and putting in the extra time, as much as I hate pushing her and taking her away from the extra curricular activities that she enjoys, but I think a strong maths foundation is a key and difficulty or hatred in maths can cause a blockage in the children's learning and it will spill in other subjects later on, if that makes sense?
Dd loves science but how would she be able to enjoy science later on if she hasn't got strong maths knowledge?

Please give me your honest opinions and sorry if this post is weird, I am not a English native speaker and had dreadful time with maths as a child.

usernameunknown Sun 23-Feb-14 12:34:02

Have a read of this Does that fit your DD?

I'm surprised school aren't doing more if she is still confused by basics

AfroditeJones Sun 23-Feb-14 12:58:51

Yes, it does sound like dd and I already voiced my concerns with SENCO and the Ed.P at the time of the dyslexia assessment but they focused on literary only.
She is progressing at her reading and spelling, and this is visible. She loves writing but won't pick up a book and read it by her own will. She is always getting loads of books from the library but expects to be read to.

oh well, time to book another appointment with SENCO, do I really should have to tell them? I have been pushing for the dyslexia assessment since reception.

Any maths tutoring websites recommendations please or should I just stick with MyMaths from now?

trinity0097 Sun 23-Feb-14 13:07:48

MyMaths is more geared at the older children rather than ks1.

spanieleyes Sun 23-Feb-14 13:22:38

you need to use things she can touch, real objects that mean something to her. So count using jelly beans or dolly mixtures or smarties or anything she likes and is allowed, what is one more, one less,simple addition and subtractions ( without the written notation) group into 2's and count in 2's, share between herself and you, anything that is real to her. Get her to move the jelly beans around as she counts them, Don't try mental maths until she has a grasp of the concrete, then move onto visual representations ( so pictures of jelly beans!) before even attempting written representations. Children that miss out of this conceptual understanding of what the maths means find it hard to catch on. She can't do 5+0 because she hasnt grasped the concept of what this abstract idea means, she needs that first.

LittleMissGreen Sun 23-Feb-14 14:08:24

My boys do RMEasimaths through the school, but have a log in at home. It teaches in a fairly visual way and they have both come on leaps and bounds since starting doing it.

TheGreatHunt Sun 23-Feb-14 14:09:55

The 0 times table? I assume that was a typo!

Do you do much maths with her as part of the day? Eg counting when shopping etc etc?

HobbetInTheHeadlights Sun 23-Feb-14 14:31:27

mathsfactor is good online site.

Arithmetic school does start with the absolute basics - lots of visual stuff and lots of practise however I started my then Yr1 and my now reception D9 with mathsfactor but with numercon and accompanying number charts by their sides- so they had stuff to help the work out the answers. Started 4 yr old reception DC as she wanted to do it as older siblings were doing it - paid monthly so could stop after a month if it didn't help her but she has really taken to it.

They used numercon at their school and have since nursery.

Not sure how useful it would be with actual dyscalculia though.

AfroditeJones Sun 23-Feb-14 15:01:30

you need to use things she can touch, real objects that mean something to her I usually use block or beads, used to use small toys when she was younger but yes, I will make it a maths game when she is having sweets, problem is she does't have much of them.

The 0 times table? I assume that was a typo! no, she is asked to memorise this and she can't do it.

mathsfactor this is the one I was having a look. Since MyMaths is for older children I will subscribe for a year of mathsfactor and see how it goes.

wow numercon is £40 on amazon, but needs must.

AfroditeJones Sun 23-Feb-14 15:13:16

Do you do much maths with her as part of the day? Eg counting when shopping etc etc?
I think I did enough, but now I am feeling like a failure.
Always been told by school that she is progressing and she is "where she should be"


CecilyP Sun 23-Feb-14 15:13:30

I agree with everything spanieleyes has said and feel her suggestions are far more useful than any websites as websites are more for practice of things children have mastered, rather than help how to master them. I don't think school is helping if asking her to memorise a 0 times table (what a pointless activity) because it would mean absolutely nothing to your dd at this stage.

But please don't beat yourself up - you did nothing wrong to cause her difficulties - it really does sound like dyscalculia.

tiredbutnotweary Sun 23-Feb-14 18:16:12

Where she should be? Then sadly not, and the school have, imo, failed her here.

Coincidentally, DD and I were talking about multiplying by zero today. The image we were using was plates of nothing. It doesn't matter how many plates you have, if they have zero cookies, cakes or whatever on each plate, then you will end up with zero cookies or whatever even if you have 10 or 20 plates.

Plates are quite good as they are like sets. However multiplication may need to take a back burner if she's still shakey on basic addition & subtraction.

Personally I would recommend the Carroll Vorderman work books. If you start with the most basic book, which are the pre-school ones, with the idea of building her confidence, it might make all the difference.

My DD hated maths and I did this, choosing the book below the level I knew she was being worked at in school. I had no idea how well this would work but the boost in confidence can be half the battle. Now she actually loves maths - little, easy & often being key. Oh & I used lots of rewards & praise for trying, a little reward for each gold star & a bigger reward for each column of gold stars (8 in each column).

Ferguson Sun 23-Feb-14 19:48:01

I was a primary TA for over twenty years, before web sites and Numicon were even invented! As others have said, children need REAL things for number work.

This is my standard info to help slower children, but come back if you need more specific ideas, and if you can, let me know how you get on:


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 :


PS: make 'number cards' with a large numeral on one side, equal number of dots/pics on the other. Give her the random numerals: can she place the correct number of bricks/beads on it? Make a 'washing line' and using the same number cards in random order, give her clothes pegs to peg up the numbers in the correct order.

FunkyBoldRibena Sun 23-Feb-14 20:01:56

I usually use block or beads, used to use small toys when she was younger but yes, I will make it a maths game when she is having sweets, problem is she does't have much of them

You don't have to wait until she has sweets to do maths. Maths is everywhere from the moment you get up to the moment you go to sleep. All day long there are opportunities for counting, and number bonds are the crucial underpinning for future maths work. From carrots on a plate to counting the red cars that you see on a bus journey - without telling her she is doing 'a maths game' you could do maths all day long to make it more real for her.

AfroditeJones Sun 23-Feb-14 20:49:40

Thank you so much.
I have put some orders through eBay and amazon and I am on a mission now.
Should I have a talk to school anyway or just do my own thing at home?

Huitre Sun 23-Feb-14 21:47:30

If it was me, I would not invest in a lot of new stuff until she's a bit more secure with the whole concept of numbers. I would get a pile of small identical edible objects and count them repeatedly. Raisins, tiny crackers or blueberries might be good. Can she count accurately, even a small number? If she can, then get ten edible things (or the highest number she can count accurately). Count them. Eat one. Count them again. Put one back in, count them again. Eat two, count how many are left, etc. Start with ten every day. Eat three, count them, put them back. I'm assuming eating a bunch of blueberries won't be a problem, but if it is, then cubes of cucumber, cheese, whatever. With the best will in the world, Numicon isn't as interesting as things you can eat for a smallish child. Ask her, if we had a bag of five sweets and four were green and the rest were red, how many are red? Even the mention of sweets can concentrate a child's mind quite interestingly. Tiddlywinks of different colours are good for this to represent different coloured sweets (or Lego or anything else you have that's the same but different colours, maybe counters from a board game).

When she comes home from school and has a snack, cubes of fruit or crackers or whatever, count them out into her bowl. Get her to count them out into her bowl with you, or alone. Cheekily steal one and eat it. How many now? Give her one back. Do it until you think your ears are going to bleed if you hear one two three another time! Or as long as she will play it with you, whichever comes first.

You can ask, me and you and daddy are all going to have a baked potato for dinner. How many do I have to put in the oven and can you get them out of the fridge? No pressure. If she can't work it out, do it with her. One for me, one for you, one for daddy. Count them - three.

Board games are good, too. Snakes and Ladders - you only have to count up to a small number each time but you can mention, I'm on 10 and I threw six. Count up, 1 2 3 4 5 6. Now I'm on 16. Even if her counting is shaky, hearing it again and again might help.

I would talk to school, too. Ask them for ideas as well.

If she really can't count eg 10 objects reasonably accurately, then you need to be talking to school as a matter of urgency and she needs some help.

The times table stuff can wait. If you can't add up, multiplication is just going to be a bit depressing as a concept.

Huitre Sun 23-Feb-14 21:52:24

Also, when you ask her these questions, you don't have to expect an answer. Think of it as a start that she is thinking about it and help her get the answer, making it as explicit as you can.

By the way, I work with children at DD's school doing Maths (also Y2), and even children who are considered to be on target for a reasonable result at the end of Y2 still need props sometimes. These children are working within age-related expectations and are not behind. Using props is a good thing, not a bad thing. It helps them make the ideas real to them in their minds.

AfroditeJones Sun 23-Feb-14 22:44:03

Thanks huitre

Reading your post I can see now it is not as bad as I said on the OP regarding counting...she can do the basics but gets muddled up counting big numbers on her head, jumping fives and tens, or counting backwards.
She also seems to have a difficulty in pronouncing
(for example 15 and 50 fifteen and fif ty, sounds the same when she says it and she is English native speaker)
She doesn't understand number bonds very well

She didn't know what number comes after 99

Sometimes she reads 12 as 21 and vice versa but could be because she is already tired doing her homework or due her dyslexia.

I will use yours and ferguson suggestions thanks.

Already ordered numercon, I look after a 3 year old so we can all do together!

Maybe will save the online tutoring for KS3. Let me build the blocks for the foundation first but will definitely look for fun games online, I realise that maybe I have been silly been so reluctant letting her using computer games. Shame she doesn't like he own one.

Now looking for games recommendations for samsung tablet please.

Huitre Sun 23-Feb-14 23:31:14

I think the online games can wait, honestly. It is far more important to get her counting objects accurately in real life and understanding in real life what happens when you add some or take some away. If counting back is a problem then do it with a snack. Ten or twenty grapes. Eat one, count again. Eat another count again. Make counting the next step to getting another bit of the snack. Then eat two at a time when she is confident with one. Repetition is good.

Muddling fifteen and fifty is quite common in the children I work with. They don't always get it the first time. I have to emphasise the end of the word and sometimes I say 'would you rather have fifteen or fifty cars/toys/cakes/apples/pennies' to make sure they are thinking of the right number if it seems like they have randomly selected the wrong one in their heads! Then I let them think about it for a bit, and if they are still going for the wrong number, I get out the pile of tiddlywinks and let them count out fifteen and fifty and then tell me. They normally don't have to do it more than a few times. You don't have to say their answer is wrong, just ask for another think about it and say, here, let's use these to see what those numbers are like.

Big numbers are a problem for lots of children IME (limited experience, but a fair number of kids). Their heads seem to go all fizzy when you stray away from twenty and get onto thirty or fifty or a hundred. DD is GOOD at maths, really good, and she was the same a while back. I wouldn't be surprised if big numbers was a developmental thing. Concentrate on numbers up to however many she can reasonably manipulate and give her a bit of confidence with them. Really, once they are properly confident with numbers up to twenty or so, the next stage is easy (well, easier). But they have to be really confident to try and work the answer out with the props they feel comfortable with. They have to feel they can do it, and real life props are a better and more useful way of doing that than online games.

With jumping in fives or tens, can you show her the pattern, or better, get her to work it out for herself? It is fine for her to count on fingers etc. Get some lego blocks or tiddlywinks and let her put them in groups of five or ten and count each one with an emphasis on the last in each group. Do it with her.

With number bonds, make it a game. Get ten identical objects and tell her there are ten. Count them out in front of her on a table. Say 'I'm going to hide some of these in my hand and you can tell me how many there are in my hand'. TELL her it's a game and present it as such. She will probably believe you. Make a big thing of her not peeking. Hide two in your hand and get her to find out how many are missing from the ones on the table in front of her. You can help her do it and don't tell her she's got it wrong if she does, just say 'really?! I think you can do even better' etc. Count out the eight and get her to count on to work out how to get to ten. She can have some other objects to add in to really see how you'd make it ten.

If she can count to 99, she can certainly grasp the stuff above. And you can work on times tables later when she feels like she understands what it going on.

Huitre Sun 23-Feb-14 23:32:54

What IS going on.

AfroditeJones Mon 24-Feb-14 08:36:10

Thank you huitre
One o he questions in the homework was 99+1 and she couldn't work out the answer even looking at the number square.

columngollum Mon 24-Feb-14 09:15:48

What happens if you stop telling her how addition and numbers work and let her tell you how she sees things?

Huitre Mon 24-Feb-14 09:39:17

Can she do 9+1? Or 19+1? Build it up slowly. See what the highest numbers she can work with are, then take it from there and slowly push the envelope a bit.

columngollum Mon 24-Feb-14 10:04:30

What does she think +1 actually means?

What does she things + anything actually means?

Once you work out how she thinks you have a chance of communicating with her.

PottyLottie123 Mon 24-Feb-14 10:31:35

I heard a Maths professor talking about the teaching of maths in this country and she said something that has stuck with me. She described the learning of maths being like a ladder. You go up one rung at a time, so the rung below you needs to be strong and secure before you step up to the next one.

The maths curriculum seems to be packed with stuff and seems to go at a much faster pace compared to when I was teaching (a decade ago, am I really that old....?LOL). My DD struggled with maths in Year 2, there seemed to be much less emphasis on or time available for place value learning. Concepts were introduced thick and fast and time for consolidation of what she was learning was scarce. I ended up giving a bright girl tuition, taking her right back to the beginning and going slowly through her understanding until I found where the gaps began to appear.

My DS is now in Y2 and is also considered bright, but he is far less happy doing maths than he used to be and he feels it is suddenly "too hard". The class got times table booklets for rote learning at home, but he had next to no idea what he was actually doing, or what the symbol "X" meant. He can count in 2s, 3s and 5s until the cows come home, but didn't relate that knowledge to the 2X table etc. until I pointed it out to him. He is by no means the only child in his class with these gaps in his knowledge and is easily capable of learning it. Doing sums with symbols is the very tip of a HUGE iceberg of learning about that function. The symbols are shorthand for an enormous chunk of gradually built-up learning. They move on too soon from the concrete to the abstract. (Sighs for "the good old days" ;) )

Too much too soon, IMHO. It's not always the teacher's fault, they are expected to meet targets and cover everything.

Ferguson, fantastic suggestions! As a TA you get to see more than any teacher because you have time to really get to grips with what a group or child is doing and you clearly know what works.

Afrodite Jones, do not beat yourself up. When our children struggle we blame ourselves. Blaming yourself because your child is human (i.e has failures as well as successes) is like blaming a lioness because her cub eats meat. Use Ferguson's suggestions to play with lots of practical maths activities. Until she can SEE what is going on when you add one more to a small number of objects, the term "+1" will be meaningless. Good luck, don't be afraid of making a nuisance of yourself at school. SENCOs need to be aware of these situations and can't help you if they don't know or don't have the invaluable information parents have to offer. (Used to be one myself, before I get clobbered!)

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