How to help your child with maths

As with reading and writing, it is important to show children that we use maths skills every day in a wide range of practical ways. You can show your child how you use maths when measuring out ingredients for dinner, when counting out knives and forks, when paying for shopping etc. Your child could help you by counting pegs out in 2s when you are hanging out the washing. They could pair up socks that have been washed, or share out sweets between a given number of people. Supporting your child's mathematical development does not have to take the form of sitting down and completing sums. Puzzles and number games such as dominoes can be enjoyable for children as can singing number songs such as 10 Green Bottles.

As with handwriting, writing numbers involves remembering what the number looks like and actually forming it too. Children can begin by writing numbers with a stick in sand, in a tray of uncooked rice, or with their fingers and paint. Ordering numbers is important, but ensure children are also beginning to understand the value of numbers e.g what is 5? What would 5 counters look like? Is 5 more or less than 8? Point out where we can see numbers around us, for example on the front of a bus, on our front door etc. Your child can also begin to recognise important times, for example where are the hands of the clock when it is bedtime? Toy clocks with adjustable hands are good for beginning to tell the time.

Along with recognising numbers, counting and calculating, a good maths curriculum will also include shape. You can help your child to recognise common shapes around them such as circle, square, rectangle and triangle. Cut out some regular shapes from coloured paper and ask your child to make a picture from the shapes. You can talk about the shape they would need for the roof of a house or for a chimney. Your child could also make a picture or patterns by fitting shapes together which is called tessellation. You can find out together which shapes tessellate and which do not.

Help your child to understand capacity and measuring by exploring how much water different shaped containers can hold. A bath or in a paddling pool is an ideal opportunity for investigating how many cups of water a container can hold. For measuring, help your child to draw around their hand and cut out the drawing. They can begin by comparing the length of their hand with other objects around the house. After that, they can then measure how many hands long the kitchen table is and find out if their bed is longer or shorter than the kitchen table.

butterfly book

To supplement the chapters in What Your Child Needs to Know, we have published a programme specifically for calculation called Butterfly Arithmetic. This book offers simple step by step lessons for children at the beginning of their education in mathematics.