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Year 3 daughter really struggling with maths

(18 Posts)
butteredfly Mon 29-Sep-14 22:41:45

She just seems to find it very difficult to grasp mathematical concepts and apply them. She was part of a small group for intervention at the end of year 2 to get her to expected sats level but I'm surprised she did as she still doesn't know her number bonds to ten off by heart. Partly maths doesn't interest her, partly the "rules" of maths just don't stick in her head. I'm not worried that maths isn't her thing -she's doing brilliantly in literacy despite being late summer born. But I worry that she's feeling under pressure and out of her depth and and starting label herself as crap at maths, which at only just seven isn't great. Last year teachers said it was just a confidence thing but I'm not convinced. I try and help her with maths games and ipad stuff but she just switches off and gets cross with me. I'll obviously chat to the new teacher, but any advice welcome, esp fun and creative ways of bringing some of the basic rules to life. Thanks!

MimsyBorogroves Mon 29-Sep-14 22:50:16

I'm hopping along to empathise with you - my DS is in Y2 and having the same problems. We've done a fair few trials of maths packages over the Internet to help - having the most success with one called Komodo at the moment - we are half way through a 2 week trial and it seems pretty good.

Other than that, we try to do number bonds at random times - just a few here and there in a relaxed way. I find it hard as literacy is more my forte too.

morethanpotatoprints Mon 29-Sep-14 22:58:49

Hope this will help.
My dd is H.ed but used to be like this at school and imo until they find a need for it or it becomes fun they won't budge from finding it boring and hard.

Now we play all sorts of maths games and learn through baking, board and card games, even climbing the stairs counting in two's or threes helped.
Find some games that are educational, don't tell her its maths and see the improvement. Then tell her its maths and talk about how much fun it is.
My dd will never be a mathematician but she is average maybe a little above in some topics.
Good luck thanks

butteredfly Tue 30-Sep-14 07:03:30

Thank you! Yes, both those make sense. Most of the internet games are boring and against the clock. My 4 year old son ended up playing maths factor instead of dd as he seems to really love maths (not sure where that came from!) To be honest I think the maths homework she gets is super dull. I just wish I'd started younger to think about playfully introducing maths. I am literacy all the way and now regret not compensating for the strong start she got with books with a strong start in maths too. I've just found doodlemaths for the ipad and also a sweet times table game where an animal gets to climb a tree when you get the right answer. But it's hard because she's already in the mindset that it is hard and boring. Will keep going and thanks for taking time to offer your experiences!

NancyCracker Tue 30-Sep-14 07:28:14

Does your school use the Numicon? You can get a Home edition from Amazon

It helps with Maths so that it become visual. here

It's a bit expensive. But if you can afford it it's really good.

LikeASoulWithoutAMind Tue 30-Sep-14 07:36:54

I'd second the Numicon - very tactile and hands on. Children can take a while to properly understand the link between numbers and what they actually mean - it really helps with that.

Jinglebellsarenearlyhere Tue 30-Sep-14 07:49:13

Hi there. My DD now on year 6 was exactly the same. We still struggle with engagement in the subject but getting a better understanding really helped. I do think that when children struggle with a subject instead if saying/feeling it's hard they switch off and go with I don't like it, it's boring etc etc. This is what we did - we got her a tutor to outsource the pain! And as DD listened and learned because she wasnot me! We did 10 mins maths everyday - we used the power of two books (on amazon). When she got a question right she got a marble. 1 marble =1p. I also sometimes did 10 mins of maths and she got to mark me etc etc. On the iPad we used squeebles for times tables. In the holidays we kept the maths going with work books - there are ones that have a fantasty puzzle element that she enjoyed. So in summary for us that has worked is little and often, getting better =more willing to try! Also I kept on at school when I felt she needed more support.

PastSellByDate Tue 30-Sep-14 11:44:49

Hello butteredfly

It's difficult to suggest anything because I'm unclear where the difficulty is: adding numbers >20/ subtracting numbers >20/ mutliplying/ dividing/ applying multiplication logic to fractions (i.e. knowing 1/2 = 2/4), etc...

My advice is very old fashioned, but I do swear by practice. I think part of the problem is that in school these days maths is taught as short bursts - so one or two days on fractions/ then off to perimeter & area/ then off to times tables/ etc... In busy, noisy classrooms, it can be difficult to hear or follow explanations and often, because you're surrounded by your friends, you don't want to admit you don't quite get it.

I agree that doing more at home is the solution - and there are many options:

opting for maths games (snakes and ladders but varying it - playing backwards to practice subtractions, playing mutliples (with two dice so up to x12) and chosing a number - say 10 times tables and moving accordingly - we play the board 2x (up and back) with numbers >5).

Playing 21 (to work on core addition skills)

playing multiplication snap (so chose a times table - say x5) and flip the cards (Ace - 1/ 2 - 9 as marked/ Jack = 10/ Queen = 11/ King = 12) - flip the card (say it's an 8) - first to shout answer (40 in this case 8 x 5) wins the cards. Player with most cards at the end is the winner. At first we let DDs win and were very gently - then as they got better we really go for it. Can get a bit rowdy - due to a rather embarrassing experience - I'd advise against playing in a restaurant - we got much too loud.


Go to websites for practice:

Woodlands Junior Maths Zone (JUST FABULOUS):

Multiplication dot com (lots of times table practice)

BBC Bitesize KS1 (this will review those maths skills that your DC should have mastered by the end of Year 2) - games have medium/ hard/ very hard levels so you can start out fairly easy and progressively make them harder:

There is a KS2 version - but it is more geared up for Years 5/6 in preparation for KS2 SATs.

If your school subscribes to my maths or education city - there are lots of games there to practice skills as well.

Maths is ideally suited to video games and somehow it just doesn't seem like you're practicing. 10 minutes here or there, whilst waiting for dinner or before going somewhere can really add up.


If, as was the case with my DD1, it's just a case of your DC is struggling to master functional skills in maths and getting very confused on what method/ when - then I would advise tutorial (as Jinglebells suggets). Obviously you can go the private tutor route - but there are lots of on-line maths websites that many here on MN (including me) have praised over the years: Komodo Maths/ Maths Whizz/ Mathletics/ Mathsfactor and recently some are saying Khan Academy really helps. Khan academy is entirely free - and the rest are by subscription but I think most offer a free trial period.

We went the mathsfactor route and have never looked back. DD1 finsihed KS1 at NC Level 1 in Maths and could barely take 1 from 10 - we committed to mathsfactor and did the 5 x 10-20 minute homeworks a week and the improvement within a few short months was unbelievable. Others have said much the same about other programmes. My view is there's a lot out there - so have an explore and even let your DC have a say - but try and find something that appeals. For us, a woman teaching maths who was obviously enthusiastic was just what the doctor ordered because DD1 was at a school where it was quite normal to feel 'girls are no good at maths' - indeed she told me that's what the teacher said (a female - and traitor to her sex I fear).


In the end doing more at home reinforces what is going on at school. In an ideal world the school would be professional enough to help guide you through the choices/ options out there - and I would encourage you to at least ask for some advice from them. But if they aren't forthcoming (as was the case in our situation - we were supplied with the old national curriculum and told they were teaching to it - literally!) know that there's a lot out there that you can help.


mrsmortis Wed 01-Oct-14 08:57:46

For learning to add there is a card game I used to play at school called 99. The basic rules are here: though once you have the idea you can make up your own variants (the one we played was slightly different). Much more fun than doing maths...

Notcontent Wed 01-Oct-14 23:36:37

Yes, that describes my dd exactly, who is now in year 4. Is doing ok in maths but doesn't really get it. Agree with everything everyone else has said. Do a bit at home every day. Keep at it.

Ferguson Thu 02-Oct-14 19:50:42

This is my standard information to help with Numeracy, and I'll add an extra bit at the end, for older children:


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 :


(Extra bit to follow . . .)

Ferguson Thu 02-Oct-14 19:55:59


'Data collection' and producing graphs or charts is an easy activity, and will probably be covered in school, and attractive-looking results may stimulate interest in numbers and their manipulation. Thus, count makes of cars, different forms of transport, animals seen on a walk; types of shops in the high street; interview people for their favourite foods, TV shows, music, singers, holiday destinations, toys etc.

So, try to USE numbers for a purpose, and not just as boring numbers!

margaritasbythesea Thu 02-Oct-14 19:58:05

I don't know how to watch ac TV thread on my tablet but thanks to those who have posted. Very helpful.

margaritasbythesea Thu 02-Oct-14 19:59:24

Or type!

joanofarchitrave Thu 02-Oct-14 20:06:30

I'd agree with Numicon.

99 is a terrific game.

There was a great study a while ago showing that a few weeks playing snakes and ladders was still showing up as better maths results months later. It's the physicality of it - counting 1 2 3 4 and moving 4 spaces, it gives children that physical 'feel' for how big a number is, that 6 is twice as big as 3 etc.

I would also play lots of Old Maid if she turned out to like it at all. It's very comforting and very simple, just matching up pairs.

Chess is a good way into three dimensional ideas. She might be less nervous of it as it isn't noticeably connected to maths at all. Could you start a chess club at school if she likes it at all? Backgammon might also be worth trying.

Pontoon/blackjack is great for addition and I found a child who wasn't at all good at maths that i was working with picked it up pretty fast.

Of course these depend on her liking card games - do you have a partner, would they play as well? i have the handicap that my dh absolutely will not play any games at all so it is never fun family time. It's a real issue tbh.

LikeASoulWithoutAMind Thu 02-Oct-14 21:54:10

Shut the Box is also a great game for practising maths without really realising. My dcs love it.

butteredfly Tue 18-Nov-14 09:58:56

just came back to this thread - thanks for all the replies! We have shut the box - it's great. Though poor dd is so put off now by anything mathsy - she can smell it a mile off. I wish she'd started maths later at school so I had had more time to get her interested at home. (she's summer born and wasn't ready for formal learning at all when she began, though doing great in literacy now...

sneepy Tue 18-Nov-14 12:15:15

Love the times tables snap game! Will be doing it with dd2 this afternoon so thank you!

To the OP, dd1 was the same with literacy. Didn't get reading, didn't like it, didn't want to write. About half way through y3 something clicked for her and she is doing fabulously now in y4. You've got great advice here, she is younger in her year, it'll click sooner or later.

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