As a a former teacher and mother of two I understand the struggles that parents can go through when trying to support their child’s learning.
The way children are taught today is vastly different to how we were taught at school. Gone are the days of chalk boards and drills, replaced by iPads, IWBs (interactive whiteboards) and those lounge looking classrooms. Have you ever sat down with your child at the dinner table and struggled to help with their maths homework because the way they have been taught is not the same way you learnt? I think I can hear a resounding “yes” across the country, in fact the world!
Thankfully, all is not lost!
These are some of the fun ways I support my children’s numeracy development – you probably do some of these already without realising it:
- Encouraging your child to use mathematical language — how much, how big, how small, how many?
- Discussing units of measurement when using everyday tools such as tape measures or kitchen scales.
- Exploring situations using money such as shopping, budgets and credit cards.
More tools and strategies to help your child include…
1. Online learning resources
These days, many children are hard to separate from their technological devices, online learning resources present a opportunity to engage your child with relevant and useful content that can supplement your own discussions at home. The world of online learning has expanded rapidly in the last decade, with programs such as Mathletics now able to deliver high quality, curriculum aligned learning that keeps children interested and ensures the learning journey continues beyond the classroom.
2. Working with your child’s classroom teacher
In most cases, don’t try to push too far ahead of what your child’s teacher is doing in school. This will mean that your child will be bored in class and this will bring its own problems. It is much better to reinforce what has already been covered earlier in the year or to choose topics that are not likely to be covered in school at all, but which will encourage a love of mathematics for life. If you talk to your child about the topics they are covering at school, you may be able to extend that to outside the classroom.
Work with your children’s teachers, rather than against them. I was a teacher for over ten years and I can tell you there is nothing a teacher appreciates more than a supportive parent who can work with the teacher to help the child’s learning experience.
Read more about parent-teacher communication here.
3. Using practical examples
Practical examples are a great way of helping our children with mathematics, since virtually everything we see, do or touch has some mathematics involved. By exploring and explaining the relationship between mathematics and our surroundings, you can inspire and assist your child, not only to become more proficient, but to enjoy and understand the everyday relevance of mathematics. Some easy to explain, practical discussion topics include:
- SPORT – How does your favourite sport tally the score? What maths is presented on the tally? Are there other ways to record the score? How long do your favourite sport games go for in minutes and seconds? Are they divided into halves, quarters or something else? What are the shapes of different playing fields and courts? (Talk about edges and angles)
- NEWSPAPERS – On the front page, estimate the percentage of picture and text. Does this vary over the first four pages? Research the cost per word/line to put a classified advertisement in the newspaper. How much it would cost to put an advertisement in the classified section? In the weather section, what is the difference between the minimum and maximum temperature for each day? Try the number puzzles such as Sudoku, in the puzzle section of the newspaper or online.
- COOKING – Discuss the use of fractions, millilitres and grams. Let your child to make accurate measurements using measuring cups and spoons. How would you double a recipe? Encourage your child to record the new measurements. Make a list of the abbreviations used in recipes and then write them in full, for example, L for litre, mL for millilitre, tsp for teaspoon, tbs for tablespoon.
4. Talking to fellow parents
As I’m sure you’re aware, fellow parents can be a valuable source of information on all aspects of parenting. They too are doing the best they can to support their child’s learning. Ask other parents how they talk to their children about mathematical concepts, they may even be able to suggest local examples or activities that they use to facilitate their children’s mathematical learning.
Above all I want my children to love learning.