Top tips

Everyone wants their child to do well in maths. If you're wondering what you could be doing to make sure that your child develops the skills they need, you can find out more here.

Take a look for general top tips or select from the panel for age-specific ideas for 3–11 year olds.

For younger children 3-7 year olds

It's good to share

Real life often provides the best opportunities to develop maths skills. When maths is real – about real things and with a real purpose – it can be much easier to understand than just numbers in a book.


1. Talk together
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.


2. Count together
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.


3. Sing together
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.


4. Play together
Play games that involve number, like bingo, dice and card games. Puzzles and board games can also be great for counting practice.


5. Explore together
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.


Skill up...

1. Counting
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 eBook about counting?


2. 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.


3. 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?


4. 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?


5. Measuring
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?


6. 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.

For older children age 7-11 year olds

Sharing maths

Real life often provides the best opportunities to develop maths skills. When maths is real – about real things and with a real purpose – it can be much easier to understand than just numbers in a book.


1. At home together
We use numbers all the time when we're managing our home lives. Activities such as planning menus, preparing and cooking meals, making a shopping list, planning a trip, and managing a budget require a range of maths skills. Involve children in these household activities as much as you can.

Ask questions such as 'You had £5.50 pocket money and today you spent £1.45. How much should you have left?' or 'This recipe asks for 750 g of potatoes. We have a 1 kg bag. Will that be enough?'

Want a Money Sheet to keep track of money and practise adding and subtracting?
Want a tasty recipe to try together?


2. Make and do together Most craft and DIY activities involve maths skills. Activities such as model making, sewing and decorating can involve a range of skills such as adding, subtracting, multiplying, dividing, measuring length, perimeter, area and volume, using decimals, fractions and percentages and understanding shapes and angles.

Want to do some salt dough together?


3. Out and about together You'll find lots of opportunities to help your child use numbers when you're out and about, doing chores or going on trips. Adding or comparing prices, checking change, keeping a record of what you've spent and weighing food are all things that your child might be able to help with.


4. Games together You may already know some great games that you can buy that use numbers. There are also lots of games you can make or adapt at home to develop maths skills:

Bingo, Snap and Pairs number games help children to match different maths questions with their answers, e.g. 7 x 9 and 63. Games that involve racing each other, or throwing balls etc., can include measuring and comparing lengths.

Scoring games can also build your child's maths skills and can often be changed to suit your child's needs. Adding,subtracting, multiplying, using tables and graphs and calculating averages can all be practised when recording and comparing game scores.

Want a Three Day Training Challenge for your child to try?
Want to build a pellet shooting robot and practise measuring, using tables and calculating averages at the same time?
Want some games to practise times tables?


5. Homework together Find a homework time and place that suits you both. Some children find it easier to concentrate when there isn't much other noise going on. Some find it easier to work after they've had a meal. Others need to get it out of the way before they get too tired.

If you're not sure how to help your child with a particular piece of homework, you may find a useful explanation in our Jargon buster.This will take you through some of the key skills that your child is developing and the methods they will be using.

If your child is struggling with a piece of maths homework, find some things that they did do right to show them first, then pick just one or two of the mistakes to highlight and go through with them. A page full of mistakes can be very off-putting. If your child has lots of difficulties with homework, have a talk to their teacher.

Want a Bathroom Wall 6 x Table for practice?

Developing skills

1. Using fractions and decimals During this period, most children are shown how to recognise and identify different fractions and decimals and to calculate with them in a variety of ways.

Have fun on a Fraction, Decimal and Percentage Treasure Hunt!


2. Understanding shapes Help your child to look out for and identify different shapes in the world around them. Craft activities often require an understanding of shapes or angles. Need a bit of help remembering the names of different 2D or 3D shapes?

Try one of the shape pairs and snap games in the Fun Activities section.


3. Measuring Measuring activities can range from measuring the length of a shelf, to working out how much soil you need to fill a window box or planning what time to take the tea out of the oven. Sports and physical games, DIY, craft and recipes all often involve measuring. Even though it may take a bit longer, the more you let your children do the measuring themselves in these activities, the more confident they'll become.

Try one of our tasty recipes or one of our great craft activities, and practise measuring at the same time!


4. Using charts, tables and graphs Using simple charts and graphs, like star reward charts, or tables such as TV listings or bus timetables will help your child get used to how they work. Why not help them to make their own tables or graphs to gather information about something they really enjoy? It could be about the performance of a sports team, their own performance in an activity, or maybe monitoring something they're interested in, e.g. How many birds can they count on their way to school? Or, which are the favourite pop bands of their class-mates?

Want a Star Chart to celebrate your child’s successes?

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