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Teachers / parents: when do children start working with 4 digit numbers?

(36 Posts)
Hindsight2020 Thu 12-Jan-17 13:44:36

Roughly when is column addition and subtraction with 4 digit numbers started?

I know schools have some flexibility with timings for years 3/4 and 5/6, as long as they do teach the statutory topics. I also know that all children are expected to cover each topic at the same pace rather than there being huge differentiation as there was previously.

But roughly when and what issues might make it happen earlier or later?

catkind Thu 12-Jan-17 17:31:43

If they can do 3 digits and understand it properly, surely 4 digits is a non-issue. It's something that teachers have thrown DS's way under the guise of extra challenge (Y2-3), and he gets grumpy because it's no more challenging, just more time consuming.

Hindsight2020 Thu 12-Jan-17 20:45:32

So would you expect them to have moved beyond 3 digits by year 4 then or simply not be touching on the topic at all?

irvineoneohone Thu 12-Jan-17 21:37:48

I agree with cat. If the child can do 3 digit correctly, there are nothing more difficult about 4 digits.

My ds does online maths program. If it start off with 3 digits addition, if you keep on answering correctly, next it's 4, then 5 then .... I was shocked to see it goes up to millions to complete 100% status, and I don't see any benefit of it. Only thing it test is the patience. Not capability which already there.

My ds' school only teaches column methods in KS2, so from yr3. They normally had 4 different leveled works. If easy was 2 digit addition, moderate was 3, hard was 4, extra hard was some sort of word problem.

Wellthen Thu 12-Jan-17 22:21:26

When they're ready. As pps have said, once they've moved on from 2 dig then they can do endless numbers really. Further challenge is more about the method used (whether they need to borrow or carry or not) and application.

The government may dictate "year 3 will do year 3 work and year 4 will do year 4 work" but in reality of course there will be differentiation. Beginning from a child's existing ability is a cornerstone of learning so difficult for teachers to avoid!

RafaIsTheKingOfClay Fri 13-Jan-17 08:17:38

Tbf, the government have never dictated that. It seems to be a myth perpetuated by a number of schools.

The NC says that children should be stretched outwards ^ before^ being stretched upwards but that some children will need to be challenged by being given work from other year groups or even key stages if necessary.

The objectives for each year group are also non-statutory. Schools could chose to organise their curriculum completely differently if they wished as long as all the objectives were covered by the end of the key stage. There's no way the government could dictate that x content must be taught in year 3 and only year 3 under the NC as it stands.

irvineoneohone Fri 13-Jan-17 09:00:42

Sorry I really don't get your question as I re-read op.
Why particularly 4 digits? why do you think it's more harder than 2 digit or 3?
Like I said up thread, if you can do 2 digits, they give you 3, then 4 then 5 or whatever. But it's lazy differentiation, nothing challenging about it, imo.

Wellthen Fri 13-Jan-17 09:43:56

So here where it specifically says Year 1 and Statuatory? I'm not meaning to be snarky it's genuine question! I agree that you can't simply say something will be taught only in year 3 but my understanding was that, compared to the 1988 national curriculum, English and Maths has become much more year group specific.

Plus, to describe a child as meeting or exceeding age related expectations they must be judged against their year group objectives. Although, this may just be the way my school have chosen to assess.

RafaIsTheKingOfClay Fri 13-Jan-17 10:54:39

From page 100, for maths and there's a similar page for English.

'The programmes of study for mathematics are set out year-by-year for key stages 1 and 2. Schools are, however only required to teach the relevant programme of study by the end of the key stage. Within each keystage, schools therefore have the flexibility to introduce content earlier or later than set out in the programme of study. In addition, schools can introduce key stage content during and earlier key stage as appropriate.'

As far as I can tell, statutory means 'statutory within a keystage' rather than in that year group. I can see how it is confusing if you are just looking at that page. I've got a feeling it might have been clearer in the draft version.

Hindsight2020 Fri 13-Jan-17 11:50:12

Thank you so much for your thoughts, it's making me wonder if I have asked the wrong question. Perhaps it should have been "when do most children in KS2 work with four or more digits for a variety of problems?"

Alternatively, "would you expect a year 4, top maths set child, to still be doing 3d-3d and 3d+3d sums at this point in year 4?"

I am considering asking about this at school, but wanted to check if my expectations are unreasonable.

I appreciate the views that once you can confidently use 3, then 4 or more should also be fine, however if you're going to do X amount of formal method sums anyway, why wouldn't they be 4 or more digits by now, especially given that this cap of 3 digits seems to apply to everything from word problems to measures.

If it's is fairly usual to wait until year 5 before using 4+ digits, however, I'd better wind my neck in grin

cantkeepawayforever Fri 13-Jan-17 12:00:50

It isn't the number of digits that makes it harder.

3 digit to 4 digit to 6 digit is trivial.

what makes it harder is e.g. exchanging, exchanging (in subtraction) over a zero, the use of decimals to the same number of decimal places, the use of decimals to different numbers of decimal places, the need to convert between unitsd before subtraction or addition can take place...

So 431 + 262
467 + 358
4.54 + 3.23
45.4 + 3.23
45.4 metres +323 cm all use the same number of digits, but they are of increasing difficulty.

Equally, 4_7 + _ 5 _ = 825, where _ is an unknown digit is harder, even though the numbers all have 3 digits.

Subtraction has additional layers of complexity because of the exchange over 0, but I think the point is probably clear.

cantkeepawayforever Fri 13-Jan-17 12:05:36

So if i was designing a sheet to challenge more able mathematicians in year 4, I might start with checking the basic 3+3, with and without exchange, then look at balancing equations with a missing number, missing digit calculations like the one I showed you, word problems in context - then go through the same steps for decimals to the same and different numbers of decimal places. Or include some 'find the mistake and explain', some 2 or more step word problems, some problems where the numbers are given on a scale which has to be read, some equations where there are calculations on either side of the = side (e.g. 451 + 329 = unknown number - 291), different contexts of measures with and without conversion.

Wellthen Fri 13-Jan-17 12:06:14

Ah ok thank you Rafals that's much clearer. This certainly isn't how my school has presented it.

RafaIsTheKingOfClay Fri 13-Jan-17 12:13:10

I don't think it's how most schools have. I think I can see why schools would want to stick with the order as set out in the NC.

It's a shame really. It would have been interesting to see if any schools managed to come up with a teaching order that might have worked better than the way it is currently set out.

Hindsight2020 Fri 13-Jan-17 12:23:15

cantkeep yes, that would be a vast imporovement!

bojorojo Fri 13-Jan-17 13:45:05

Children can be stetched in any part of the maths NC. It is up to the teacher to assess their progress and ability and then set challenging work for those that need it. Usually this is done within the topic the whole class is studying. So 4 digits if the child needs it. Ot anything else if the child needs it.

MilkRunningOutAgain Fri 13-Jan-17 16:04:46

Most impressed with my DC's school who seem to be doing roughly what cantkeepaway said. DD started getting longer sums with 4 digits or more in regularly in yr 5. She is average at maths. DS got to this in yr 3, he is good with numbers.

catkind Sat 14-Jan-17 09:47:46

I think you're focussing on one aspect which is a bit of a red herring. Is he learning things in his maths lessons generally? Is he being challenged? If you're not convinced of this, I'd start by having a look at his work books (does he get everything right?), and ask if you can see his targets.

They could be not bothering with 4 digits but doing lots of challenges like in cantkeepaway's post. Or they could be only just learning column addition for 3 digits.

Hindsight2020 Sat 14-Jan-17 11:35:56

No, there's no learning in this regard given that they did 3d column addition & subtraction throughout year 3. I'm generally non-plussed as the school is academic but the maths seems, I don't know, basic and very focused on calculation?
Speaking to other mums I get the impression there's a fair amount of support at home, so perhaps this explains the results? I had hoped the NC would support me having a chat, but it doesn't seem to be the case if schools can leave 4+ digit calculations until the end of year 5 if they wanted to and still meet the "done by the end of the key stage" criteria.

catkind Sat 14-Jan-17 11:58:19

From what I've seen, primary maths curriculum is mostly calculation and is pretty basic as far as content goes, for able students. The NC isn't going to demonstrate whether your DS is being challenged or not, you need to look at the types of questions he's being asked and how he's finding them.

mrz Sat 14-Jan-17 13:22:26

If the child can work confidently with three digits they can work with four, five, six....bigger numbers isn't harder work.

Hindsight2020 Sat 14-Jan-17 13:53:17

That's sort of my point mrz. Why wouldn't they be using 4 or more digits by now if there is plenty of evidence that 3 digit sums are all completed correctly? Are there any educational reasons to keep going over the same topic at the same level over two school years (through year 3 and year 4)?

ShoeEatingMonster Sat 14-Jan-17 14:02:46

I won't bother repeating what others have said about the complexities of the different number of digits in a calculation.

However to answer your initial question in most schools it is often around Year 4. I know others have commented on the fluidity ofobjectives but Y4 addition and subtraction states 'add and subtract numbers with up to 4 digits using the formal written methods of columnar addition and subtraction where appropriate'.

I get the idea that you feel your dc isn't being challenged? If so I'd be less bothered about the number of digits in a calculation and more bothered about the teaching and activities used to challenge them.

As an aside people please stop using the word 'sum' to mean calculation. Sum is specific to addition ie the sum of two numbers gets off soap box

irvineoneohone Sat 14-Jan-17 14:22:14

Like I said up thread, my ds' school did 4 digits in Yr3, as a part of differentiation.
According to this website which follows NC, 4 digits +/- is definitely covered in YR4.

Hindsight2020 Sat 14-Jan-17 14:40:46

DD isn't being challenged, but actually I'm less bothered by this than by the idea that an academic school isn't even teaching at the level specified, let alone beyond that for the top set.

I've found this too:
Year 5 - Pupils should be taught to: add and subtract whole numbers with more than 4 digits, including using formal written methods (columnar addition and subtraction).

So if by year 5 you are supposed to be using more than 4 digits it seems that the boat will be missed if they stick to using 3 digits in year 4.

Does anyone know if this is statutory or was the document pictured by a pp guidance?

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