Maths Tips for Parents

Maths Tips for Parents

Be positive about math.  Express confidence in your child’s ability to do math.  Don’t stress either your own fear of math or how difficult math is or how much you admire anyone who can do math.  Remember, everyone can and does use math all the time.

Show your kids math at work in their world.  Get your kids used to math by thinking out loud when making calculations.  Then, let your children work out some real-life puzzles themselves.  For example:

  • Let them measure when you bake.
  • Let your child figure out how many kilometres you’ll be driving on your next trip by using the information on a map.
  • Sort silverware by knives, forks, and spoons.  Sort cards by suit or numbers.

Make math a game.  Math games are fun and inexpensive.  They are a wonderful way to get your kids to enjoy working with numbers, as well as improve their number skills.  Here are a few suggestions:

  • Many games that we take for granted are excellent math lessons.  “Go Fish” teaches counting and grouping in sets.  Games that use play money teach how to make change.  Board games that use dice teach addition and counting.  Backgammon teaches addition, subtraction, and strategy.
  • Beans, stones, or marbles can be used to play number games.  Let your child develop his or her own games by sorting beans into different sizes or types, setting up the rules for a counting game, or using different types of pasta to make a picture.
  • Give your children a geometry lesson by letting them create a collage of circles, squares, and triangles.  Challenge them to come up with as many different shapes as they can using only triangles.
  • Play ‘Shop’ with the items in your cupboard.
  • A pan of water and some jars or cups of different sizes will amuse a child for hours while teaching capacity and volume.

Encourage creative problem-solving.  Problem-solving is the basis of good mathematical thinking, and the problems don’t have to involve numbers. 

  • “How many different ways are there to walk to school?”
  • “What’s another way to arrange the furniture in this room?”
  • “How many different ways can I measure flour to get half a cup?”

Try to come up with more than one solution for everyday problems.

Choose gifts that develop problem-solving skills.  Blocks, building sets, geometric tile sets, puzzles, board games, weather stations, maps, puzzle books, calculators, strategy games, scales, and origami are just a few of the gifts that will give your child pleasure and knowledge at the same time.

Help them to learn their tables and have quick recall of all tables up to 10 x 10 and related division problems – eg how many 6s in 42?

Practise number bonds – eg what do you add to 45 to get 100?

Encourage them to show all working out when doing homework

Encourage them to complete homework to a high standard

Ensure they have all the correct equipment for maths lessons

Use every day situations to practise maths – e.g. estimating the bill when in the supermarket: is the large size better value etc.

Encourage a positive attitude to maths. Make maths fun!

Encourage children to get involved in solving puzzles – e.g. Suduko, Logic puzzles, games of strategy. Puzzles can be found on the NRICH website

Making Maths Fun:  Spend time with your children on simple board games, puzzles, activities that encourage Maths skills. We all use Maths in everyday life, whether we realise it or not. Young children playing with water or a sandbox are learning concepts of mass, volume, density, weight, measurement, space. The kitchen is filled with tasty opportunities to teach children about fractions; following a cooking recipe teaches concepts of weighing, measuring, logical reasoning, following instructions. Calculating money, filling a car with petrol, estimating the length of a car journey, estimating time intervals,  are just some of our normal everyday activities which require Mathematical reasoning.

Tune into Technology: Encourage your children to use technology to enhance their Maths skills and problem-solving techniques. See below for some useful Maths Apps.