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Help! Just realised my year 3 dd is struggling with maths and literacy

(15 Posts)
beyondthehill Sun 18-Jan-15 16:03:57

I have been guilty of leaving it to school who have led me to believe she is fine. However, doing homework this weekend has been a bit of an eye opener. She had to write a paragraph about something she had read and just wrote, completely missing most full stops and capital letters and including barely any detail. Maths is just as bad. She still cannot seem to use number bonds if there is something like 13 =7 etc., or do things like add on 6 to 66 without getting confused. I think I will have to start doing extra work at home as I am convinced she is getting lost in class (35 children in a mixed year 3/4 class and she is very quiet and well behaved). I am not sure where to start but would really appreciate your support. I'm feeling very worried about it.

Ferguson Sun 18-Jan-15 19:32:37

I was a primary TA / helper for over twenty-five years, so I will give you some of my standard information to help situations like this.


If she is finding writing difficult, I often suggest if you have a tape recorder, or a phone that will record, can she DICTATE her story or essay. That way, ideas can flow more easily, without worrying about spellings, punctuation etc. Then she can listen to it, and if she is happy with it, write it out or type it on a computer.

Does she understand punctuation, sentences, paragraphs etc?

This is a book well worth having:

An inexpensive and easy to use book, that can encourage children with reading, spelling and writing, and really help them to understand Phonics, is reviewed in the MN Book Reviews section. Just search ‘Phonics’.


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, 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


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'.

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 :

If, after considering the above, you have specific questions, come back and I'll try and help.

MagratsHair Sun 18-Jan-15 20:08:25

Go and see the teacher first OP before you start any extra work. Outline your worries and see what the teacher says.

Things are taught differently from when we went to school and if you use a different method e.g. in maths to the one that school use you risk confusing her.

beyondthehill Mon 19-Jan-15 09:59:13

Thanks for the replies. I spoke to her teacher just before Christmas and she said things are fine - just carry on doing what we are doing (just homework and reading). I have a ds in year 5 at the same school. He is the other extreme and is working with the top set of the year above for all subjects and it seems teacher have always been on the ball with him. Dd on the other hand seems to just plod along unseen by the teachers even though she is the one who to needs more explanation. I am fine with the fact that they are good at different things and don't expect dd to be as ahead as ds (he seems to just know how to do things). Because of ds I know the way they teach things at school so feel I could show her without confusing things.

I know I probably sound like I am expecting too much of dd and comparing her to ds but I really am not and I really do think she needs a bit of help.

Artistic Mon 19-Jan-15 10:25:36

Get a few Schofield & Sims workbooks..they offer small lessons to get going. If she does them regularly with your supervision she should make good progress. It will also allow you to see where she is on each topic & where she needs help. Once she's improved you can move on to Bond books!

I've found that from y3, you can't skip working with the child at home. It's almost essential to keep them on track.

Am sure she will catch up in no time. Don't worry to much but do be regular on the home practise.

beyondthehill Mon 19-Jan-15 11:54:13

Thanks so much. Just looked at those books on amazon and they look really good. I never seem to have a clue what they are doing in maths and literacy at school so it will be great to work through them.

MinimalistMommi Mon 19-Jan-15 12:23:38

This book would help you know exactly what she knows and what she doesn't in only ten minutes a day. I'm using it with my Year Two DD now but it worple be perfect for year 3 child and it works a lot on number bonds etc. expensive but very, very worth it.

MinimalistMommi Mon 19-Jan-15 12:24:36

Here it is:

GooseyLoosey Mon 19-Jan-15 12:27:43

For a while, I had a tutor for dd for this kind of stuff. It was great - part of the problem for her was that she had decided she could not do the stuff and so did not focus in lessons as she thought she would not understand them. This of course perpetuated the problem.

The lovely tutor lady just gave dd the confidence that she could do it and once she believed that, she gradually found that she could do it!

WillBeatJanuaryBlues Mon 19-Jan-15 12:53:52

I am shocked op. I hope you manage to sort it out. Another post illustrating why we all need to keep a close eye on things.

Fine - compared to .......what angry

beyondthehill Mon 19-Jan-15 13:30:19

Thanks for the useful advice. I have ordered the books for maths. What sort of things do you think I can do to help with literacy? Her spelling is pretty good, but punctuation and content seem pretty bad at the moment sad

Artistic Mon 19-Jan-15 14:06:28

Minimalist - the book is very promising. Thanks for sharing!

WillBeatJanuaryBlues Mon 19-Jan-15 14:50:02

I wonder if you can get some sort of rebate for her being failed and left un educated when told she is fine?

I really hope for the sake of other children you go to head and raise issues.

BlueChampagne Mon 19-Jan-15 16:31:12

I think you're right - sometimes it's the quiet well-behaved ones that slip through the net. How did she do in KS1 SATs?

Definitely raise it with school. Do they offer workshops to parents on how they teach grammar and maths? Does she have the same teacher that your DS did?

If you read to her, you can use that as an opportunity to point out the use of grammar, and how you make a story interesting.

Collins Practice Mental Maths we have found useful, and a times table CD.

MinimalistMommi Mon 19-Jan-15 17:42:20

You're welcome Artistic!

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