Help your kids with their maths homework with these 10 essential skills every parent should know and can put into practice at home...
Helping the kids with their maths homework can be daunting, especially if you can’t remember how to do algebra or the Pythagoras theory. There are lots of simple ways you can help your children with their maths and incorporate the essential skills into their daily lives without feeling bad about not knowing the difficult stuff. Check out our easy ways to improve your child’s maths skills at home…
One of the first maths skills your child will learn is numbers and how to count – even if it’s just saying the numbers and not knowing what they mean! You can help your child learn to count pretty much as soon as they learn to talk.
goodtoknow tip: Anything around the house that will help them out counting should be used. For example, tins of food in your kitchen cupboard, plant pots in the garden or even tiles on the bathroom wall!
Your child can learn about the different shapes from a very young age. Start with squares, triangles, rectangles and circles and then move on to 3D shapes like cubes, cylinders and pyramids. An easy way of teaching your child the different shapes is by buying coloured shapes from a toy shop or cut them out of paper.
goodtoknow tip: You can also read books about shapes and point out and ask your child to tell you the shapes that are in and around your home, for example the shape of the roof of your house, a sandwich, car tyre or DVD. There are endless amounts of shapes around us!
Try putting little maths problems to your child and let them work it out. For instance, while baking a cake ask them to calculate the ingredient amounts if you were to double the recipe. Remember to praise them for trying – even if they get it wrong. Another way of helping them improve their maths is with money.
goodtoknow tip: When you go shopping you can ask them to help you calculate the prices of items and help you save money. For example, is it cheaper for you to buy four separate cans of cola or one pack of four colas?
Help your child learn that numbers don’t have to be complicated by teaching them that they can be simplified with rounding. You can give them a tape measure and ask them to measure different areas of your home to start with.
goodtoknow tip: Ask them if something measures 27cm, whether it will be closer to 20cm or 30cm. Once they get the hang of this, write down some numbers in thousands and ask them to round them off, like 5,678, 8,903, and 2,383.
This is one for older school children and is a skill they’ll use throughout their whole lives once they have it. A percentage simply means anything out of a hundred. So you can use the example of there being 100 children in your child’s class with 60 of these being boys and the remaining 40 being girls, which means the percentage of boys in their class is 60 per cent and is 40 per cent girls.
goodtoknow tip: Try including percentages when you go shopping as they can usually be found all around. If a shop is offering 15 per cent off books, ask your child how much the book they would like will cost with the discount.
Taking your children to the supermarket with you and asking them to weigh the fruit and vegetables will help them learn about measurements and how they’re used in everyday life. You can also explain the different types of measuring tools in the kitchen, like a jug or measuring spoons. Teach them about height and the different ways of measuring themselves.
goodtknow tip: You can mark the height of each member of the family on the back of a cupboard door with a pencil and ask your child to measure the heights in centimetres, millimetres and inches.
Whether your child is just learning about money or going off to university, teaching them how to budget and look after their finances is an essential skill. If they’re young, give them some money to practice with. Using a pen and paper, they can calculate how much they have and how much they will need to spend on essentials (like school stationery), how much they can save (they could open up their own bank account) and how much they’ve got left to spend on treats (like toys and games). When it comes to older children, you can sit down with them before they start a new school term and go through how much they will need to spend on books, tuition fees and living expenses, then calculate how much of their loan or part-time job wages they will need for these things.
Teaching your child fractions can be lots of fun, whether it’s simple like halves and quarters or more difficult with tenths or fiftieths! Take a chocolate bar and split it between the family or friends. If there are 3 of you and 6 pieces of chocolate, you’d get 2/6 each. You can also do this with Smarties, which would give you more numbers to work with.
goodtoknow tip: Divide the Smarties into groups giving each person a different colour and then work out the fractions that everyone has. For example, if there are 26 Smarties in total and your child has 8 blue ones, show them that 8/26 are blue.
You can try this pretty much anywhere, including at home. If your children are younger try using building blocks or a colourful abacus to help them learn how to add and subtract numbers.
goodtoknow tip: A game to play with all three maths skills is just giving them a number as an answer, for example 10, and asking them to give you possible ways to make 10. 5×2, 12-2 and 8+2 are just some of the ways.
Talking about the time is a great way to help your children improve on what they’ve learned on the essential skill at school. Ask them how long it is until lunch time or what time they need to leave for school if they want to be on time.
goodtoknow tip: Reading clock times takes practice and it’s a good idea to take a digital clock out of their room if they have one and replace it with a traditional clock with hands.
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