General maths advice and tips
Everyone wants their child to do well in maths. If you're wondering about what you could be doing to make sure that your child gets off to a good start, you can find out more here.
Take a look here for general top tips or select from the panel for age-specific ideas for 3-5 and 5-7 year olds.
Talking with your child about maths is important for building confidence. Whenever you can, try to talk about how you use maths in everyday life.
- You could measure ingredients for recipes together: 'We need 50g of sugar. Let's use the scales to measure that.'
- You can look at the clock together: 'If the party is at 5 o'clock we need to leave in half an hour. That'll be half past 4.'
- You can talk about how much things cost, paying and getting change when you go shopping.
Try counting real objects as this helps children picture maths in their heads. Give children different household objects to count like buttons, coins or shoes. Use a single type of object only for each counting activity. Help your child to touch each object as they count it. Count together and see how far you can get! Go for a walk and count your footsteps.
Sing – even if it isn't your forte! Singing number songs and nursery rhymes like '10 in a Bed' will help your child to hear numbers in context and have fun with counting.
Play games that involve number, like bingo, dice and card games. Puzzles and board games can also be great for counting practice.
Numbers are all around us, from calendars to door numbers, street signs to car registration plates. Choose a 'Number of the Week' and see how many times you can spot this number, around the house, out in the street or in the supermarket.
Let your child see and hear you counting often. Count sets of the same object, like a set of pencils, touching or picking up each object as you count. Use number rhymes and songs, like '10 Green Bottles' and sing together. Set the table together. Ask: 'How many forks do we need? Let's count them.'
Want to read an e-book about counting?
- Recognising numbers
Find numbers on signs, in magazines and in shops: 'Let's find all the 3s.' Press the telephone numbers together when you're using the phone. Point to each number in the telephone number and read the number aloud. Use the TV remote control together, point to the numbers and then read the number aloud as you change the channel.
- Writing numbers
Have fun practising together by writing numbers in sand with a stick, on the pavement with chalk or on sheets of paper with finger paints. Write numbers for your child to copy. Hold your hand over theirs as they write the number so they can feel how to write it. Try holding their finger and forming the number in the air. Begin to encourage your child to write numbers on their own.
Want a fun activity to practise writing numbers?
- Understanding shapes
Point out different shapes around you whenever possible. Choose a 'Shape of the Week' and then see how many times you can spot this shape around you. Ask your child to describe the shape to you. Think about the number of sides and corners a shape has: 'Look at this rectangle. How many sides are the same length? 'Look at this cube. Count how many corners it has.'
Want more fun ideas to try?
Practise measuring the length or height of everyday objects (in metres or centimetres). Help your child to use different rulers and tape measures. Order objects by height or length and use the words 'longer/taller than', 'shorter than', 'longest/tallest' and 'shortest'. Choose some items from your kitchen cupboard. Weigh them together and put them in order. Use the words 'heavier than', 'lighter than', 'heaviest' and 'lightest'.
Want an activity sheet to practise taller and shorter?
- Using maths
Set the table together. Ask: 'Who is coming for dinner? Mummy, Daddy, you and Pete. How many forks do we need?'
Make a picnic or snack together. Say: 'There are 3 people eating. We have 1 apple. How many pieces shall we cut it into?' Share out other food items between people together. Make fruit drinks and talk about how much fruit juice there is compared to water. Say: 'We put in a little bit of juice. Then we topped up with water. We put in about 10 times more water than juice.'
Spend time talking about maths. Children are often influenced by the attitudes of the adults around them. Most importantly, enjoy what you do together and give loads of encouragement because it really works! Remember too much pressure could put off your child.