Helping children age eight to nine with maths at home


Boy working on maths problemIn Year 4 of primary, children move from working with larger numbers to working with decimals, mainly in relation to money and measurement.

Children work at consolidating adding and subtracting, and responding quickly to mental calculations, such as 712 +110 (700 + 100 + 12 + 10).

They will build on their knowledge of bonds. For example, 21p + 87p can be broken down like this: 20p + 80p + 7p + 1p.

Maths is taught differently to when we were children. If you attempt to 'help' your child with subtraction by using the borrowing and carrying method, it can be confusing for them (and frustrating for you). Subtraction might, however, be tackled this way: 81 – 14 is (81 – 10) = 71 and then (71 – 4) = 67.

Children at this stage need to practise their times tables up to 10 ×. They also become proficient at halving and doubling 2-digit numbers and multiples of 10 and 100.

Ways that you can help are by timing your child and seeing if they can beat their previous time, and calling tables out at random. The aim is for your child to respond quickly.

Number patterns and sequences

Likewise, you can help with practising and recognising number patterns and sequences. For example, what do you notice when you count from 0 in 2s, 4s, 8s? (Possible answers: 4s are double; 2s and 8s are double 4s; all numbers are even numbers.) Would it be the same if you started at 1 or 2? Try it. What happens?

At school, they will have become accustomed to explaining their methods and reasoning.


Sequencing is another important skill. For example, what are the next 3 numbers in these sequences:

  • 37, 46, 55...
  • 278,  276, 274...
  • 79, 72, 65...


Children still need to practise ordering sets of numbers (eg 6247, 1059, 939, 3642, 7512). It is important for them to say the numbers out loud as well. And remember, they still need praise and recognition for their efforts, just as they did when they were younger.

Developing mathematical skills

A good understanding of maths helps hugely in our everyday lives, so it's important to help our kids to develop these skills: to think, reason, see patterns, estimate and make predictions. Use anything your child is interested in as a means of developing these skills. At all levels, play is an essential part because it helps to build confidence.


At this stage, your child needs to continue to develop their use of money. For example, in the supermarket, get them to shop for the ingredients for something they want to bake. Get them to check the cost and work out how much money they think they will need to pay for it (estimate). Was it enough?


Cooking is an ideal activity for introducing and reinforcing all kinds of maths - using fractions, ratios, time etc (and hopefully getting edible end results).

For example, the recipe is for four people but we need to work it out for eight. What do we need to do? This has to go in the oven for 25 minutes and it is 10.20am now. When will we need to take it out?

Children playing board game on floorGames with numbers

Board games, darts, bowling and so on all contribute to developing children's maths skills. In Monopoly, for example, suggest that your child is the banker and then ask the banker to give you change from £500 in 100s and 10s. 

But, as with younger children, don't make it too difficult - games need to be easy enough for them to win (although not all the time) otherwise they will lose confidence in their abilities and won't want to play again.

Challenge 1

Investigate how many different sums you can make from your telephone number. Keep the digits in the same order. You may use + – × and ÷.

For example, if the number is 664912: 6 + 64 + 91 – 2 = 159 or 6 × 6 (36) + 49 + 12 = 97.

What is the largest/smallest number you can make?

Challenge 2

For this you will need cards numbered 1 to 9, with one set for each child and one for yourself. Shuffle the cards and then turn over 4. Lay them in a row. For example, 5 4 3 6.

Use some or all of + – × ÷ to make a new number (keeping the digits in the same order as you turned them over).

For example, 54 × 3 + 6 = 162 + 6 = 168.

Repeat in other ways. What was your highest/lowest score?

You may find your child will go for easy sums to begin with, but that's OK. They'll risk harder sums once they're confident.



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Last updated: 2 months ago