Extra activities for 6yo who loves maths

(36 Posts)
vvviola Wed 16-May-18 09:13:56

DD2 adores maths and numbers. Her teacher says her face lights up when it's maths time in class. However, she has on occasion been pulled up for not paying attention because what they were doing is "boring" or "too easy". So, despite her wanting to do "more maths things please" (as in, when she's playing by herself at the weekend she'll produce a piece of paper and ask me to write sums on it), I am very wary of going ahead of the curriculum at the risk of her being bored in class. I was that child - ended up having to do the same maths book 3 times as 1 teacher allowed me to work ahead but the following years didn't. I was a naturally rule abiding child - DD has a bit more of a spark and I don't want her getting bored.

Added to the complication is my DM who is a former teacher and minds my DC once a week. She announced to me yesterday that she had taught DD how to tell time. Which is brilliant. But there's another topic where she is likely to sit in class feeling bored.

I wouldn't say that DD is gifted. She's good at all the other subjects (social skills still need a bit of work), and is a keen reader too, but she just loves numbers.

So, long story short, is there anything I can do with her to tap into this love of numbers and maths without either trying to go ahead in the curriculum or turning it into something "academic".

OP’s posts: |
LetItGoToRuin Wed 16-May-18 10:18:18

There are several regular posters with children who are keen mathematicians, so I’m sure you’ll get some useful advice.

If her teacher says her face lights up when they do maths but she sometimes gets bored doing the easy stuff, did the teacher say what he/she is doing to provide your daughter with appropriate challenges in maths? I think the first step is another chat with the teacher. Do you know which teacher she’ll have next year, and whether that teacher has a reputation for finding opportunities to stretch the capable ones?

If a child is really keen on maths I don’t think you can hold them back just to avoid covering ground ahead of the lessons. They’re going to be bored in the lessons anyway, as they’ll pick up the new concept so quickly they’ll be twiddling their thumbs in five minutes. Instead I think you should enjoy doing some extra maths with your daughter at home, and be prepared for having conversations with every one of your daughter’s teachers as she moves from class to class. Some years will be better than others!

I’m sure others will recommend some good topics and resources to use at home.

The other thing you’ll need to do is help your daughter to ‘behave’ in class when the work is easy. I always suggest encouraging a child to be a ‘positive’ problem: if she does her ‘easy’ work quickly, neatly and accurately, and then asks politely for more/harder work, the teacher can’t really complain about the child’s attitude. If the teacher can’t keep up with providing harder work, ask whether you can send in some workbooks or a maths project from home. If the teacher refuses, ask for a meeting with the maths lead or deputy or head.

vvviola Wed 16-May-18 10:26:13

Her teacher is amazing and has been trying to give her some additional work where necessary. But what she has been focusing mainly on is using the "extra time" created by DD finishing early to work on her social skills. E.g. can you take a message to the office, can you work on xx with child you aren't usually friends with. I have no problem with this, and the teacher has done wonders for DD in this regard. It's probably next year and following years that I need to think about.

Next year's teacher hasn't been assigned yet, but I'm keeping fingers crossed it's the same one DD1 had at that level. Firm, lovely and well able to differentiate work.

OP’s posts: |
BalloonFlowers Wed 16-May-18 10:36:28

Maths puzzles.
Suduko, logic type puzzles - basically going sideways rather than learning more.
nrich may help.
Music is often enjoyed by mathematical kids - it's all fractions and making things add up and kit into bars. Might be worth exploring.

tryingtocatchthewind Wed 16-May-18 10:42:24

Agree with the previous poster. My maths loving 6 year old starting playing the piano in Feb and he loves it. I never have to pester him to practice. His teacher says he has progressed a lot at school in the last couple of months as well.

There's lots of number puzzles available.

Tinkobell Wed 16-May-18 10:46:42

Get her onto the Scholfied and Simms series ...,they are brilliant. Also definitely music and music theory v good.

bunce Wed 16-May-18 10:59:12

There are an abundance of worksheets free to download online to challenge her, DD was the same at this age and would ask for math questions just for fun so we found her limit of understanding and then introduced new concepts. She is by no means a prodigy but she is top in her year for maths. Introducing, time, shape, graphs,basic algebra, all of the times tables, calculating area of 2d and 3d objects has been fun. She is currently 8.

We know that now we have started we will have to keep it up otherwise she will grow bored in class but i think the key is using mathematics and how it is applied in the real world is key to maintaining interest. She recently helped calculate how many boxes of grass seed we would need for the lawn and how many tins of creosote for the fence.

What worries me is i have at most a average A level understanding of mathematics so it looks like some work for me lies ahead !


user789653241 Wed 16-May-18 11:41:17

Agree with nrich and music. also she may enjoy coding as well.

vvviola Wed 16-May-18 16:34:02

Thanks for all the suggestions. Will have a closer read now. I especially like the idea of logic puzzles as I'm sure I could also use similar ones for her older sister (good at maths too but not the same love of it, but who needs some help with word based problems)

She already does music (drums, after she took a keen interest in her Dad's set of drums, much to the pain of my viola playing heart hmm), so encouraging and doing further work on music theory might be a good option.

And yes, some conversations about what to do if you are finished your work or bored in class are probably necessary, especially as she moves up the years! And must remind DH not to tell tales of " the stuff I got up to when bored at school" (very intelligent, but not so good at sticking to the rules in his teens!) grin

OP’s posts: |
brilliotic Wed 16-May-18 16:56:52

My 'not gifted, but keen on maths' kid (7 now, approaching 8) really enjoyed the various Dragonbox apps a little while ago. Algebra and geometry are introduced basically as logic problems, getting progressively harder/introducing new elements.

Also at age 6 we bought the board game 'Plyt' which he loved (and still does). He simply enjoys challenging himself at mental arithmetic, and with Plyt it comes as a game that can be enjoyed by the whole family, and you can take the level of challenge as far as you like (and adjust individually for various ability levels within the family).
It's basically a game where you throw 12-sided dice and have to multiply the faces that show, in 30 seconds. A child who is just learning the TTs would throw two dice, or perhaps even only one, keeping the second pre-set on e.g. 9 for practising the 9-times table. But once you know your tables, you throw 3, 4, 5 or even 6 dice - working out the products in your head in 30 seconds can be very hard (or impossible)! I appreciate this is not everybody's idea of fun, but it works in our family ;) DD who is at pre-school can join in too - her challenge currently is to throw one die and find a number 'one less' than the number thrown.

I agree with PPs who say that 'not teaching ahead' won't help to avoid boredom, and the necessity of finding ways to deal with lack of challenge/engagement during maths at school that are not disruptive.

Also regarding the conversations with the teachers every year - in my limited experience, teachers who are willing and able (time-wise) to provide decent 'extension' will do it, the others won't, and any amount of conversations won't change that. So prepare for at least some 'bad' years; and find something to engage/challenge/learn how to learn outside of school (music has been mentioned; for us it is currently chess).

TheNumberfaker Wed 16-May-18 17:15:59

dragonbox is great. Also try to go deeper into what she can already do. So if she knows that 6+4=10, can she use that to work out 10-4? Could she apply the same logic to harder sums? Can she represent it pictorially?

ifIonlyknew Thu 17-May-18 13:29:31

not maths but commonly liked by maths fans - teach her to play chess and also get her a rubiks cube. sudoku and puzzles like that are great, she could do those in class when she has finished work, it can just look like a worksheet.

Iwantawhippet Thu 17-May-18 19:56:38

Shut the box / game that helps with number bonds and complex probability.
Querkle - logic/ patterns game.

NelsonW Thu 17-May-18 22:08:23

Hi, saw your message and wondered if your 6yo would be interested in this web-based game I made, for children : www.robotbattle.co.uk/
You can set what options you want and the time allowed to answer, so you can adjust how difficult it is. I originally made it for my son to learn his tables, and it worked! Other children have enjoyed it too.

Things such as sequences and number bonds have been added, as per the curriculum. Hope it helps!

Cyberworrier Thu 17-May-18 22:15:10

I agree with ifIonlyknew - try chess! Learning moves almost algebraic, a figure standing for a sequence of moves and having to obey rules. Good for a different way of thinking! 6 is a great age to start. Also programming, maybe scratch, with a parent supporting or learning alongside? (May be over ambitious at 6 actually but in a year or two won’t be)

user789653241 Fri 18-May-18 12:23:42

I think mathy 6 years old is quite capable of programming. Mine started at age 6.

Wait4nothing Fri 18-May-18 12:30:54

Maybe try to focus on the other parts of maths that aren’t number - they often get rushed through at school as weaker children need to spend more time on number - so it means she could get some depth in that area without becoming bored in class. So telling the time is great (slightly number based but a different skill set), also using a calendar/timetable (often challenges higher abilities in class). Work on shapes (2d, 3d, patterns, nets, symmetry) again often covered very quickly and can sometimes be found more difficult even if strong at number. Position and direction - lots of nice apps with games that can reinforce this. Coordinates are fun too.

lorisparkle Fri 18-May-18 12:52:54

My maths loving ds also enjoys chess, the dragon box app, programming (Scratch is great), and we get the i newspaper as he loves the puzzles.

user789653241 Fri 18-May-18 12:55:33

Oh, another great site, meant for 7+, but totally accessible for able 6 years old. And sister site to nrich.


Frogletmamma Fri 18-May-18 12:59:42

Get him a rubiks cube (80s child me)

Frogletmamma Fri 18-May-18 13:00:40

Sorry her!

user789653241 Fri 18-May-18 13:34:41

Another good thing is foreign language.

Tomorrowillbeachicken Fri 18-May-18 14:25:51

Chess, music, Minecraft, robotics, computer programming

user789653241 Fri 18-May-18 14:47:30

It's very strange, but my ds has no interest in chess or Minecraft at all, so is it fair to say some maths interested kids doesn't always follow the patterns, but more to do with personal preference?
If I remember correctly, during ks1 was when my ds tried a lot of different things, some stayed and some lost. And something he didn't wanted to try, but he did later on. What I think looking back few years is, that it's best to expose her to many different things at this stage, and let her experiment.

brilliotic Fri 18-May-18 15:04:35

irvine I don't think that is particularly strange. I don't know much about Minecraft, but for chess it is definitely the case that it involves some elements that are associated with some aspects of maths - but but both chess and maths involve a lot more that isn't particularly similar to the other (in chess, the competition aspect for example, the focus on winning, you can often win despite not finding the objectively 'best' moves, there is some luck involved in the sense that you're playing against a human who makes mistakes rather than working in an abstract space that has only 'right' or 'wrong'). Equally it is possible that a child is keen on maths for other aspects of maths - that are not particularly related to chess at all.

So if you like maths because you like puzzles, logic, finding a strategy to solve a problem, multiple-step problems... and also like competition, trying to be better than someone else, challenge in the sense of one against one, .... and also like 'games' ... then chess might be for you. But if you like maths for different reasons (e.g. because manipulating numbers is like a beautiful language to you), or you like maths for these reasons but don't like competition, then there is no particular reason why you should find chess interesting.

E.g. my DS until fairly recently did like to solve chess puzzles, but didn't enjoy playing - the competitiveness, the 'you win or you lose against your specific opponent' aspect put him off.

You are very right of course, it makes sense to give children opportunities to explore a variety of things, and find 'their' thing - which might be quite unexpected.

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