Teaching: maths



Maths may have changed quite a bit since you were at school – so do you know what to do when your children ask for help with this important subject? Understand the new methods used in schools, and encourage your child to enjoy learning about numbers through everyday activities. 

How addition is taught
How subtraction is taught in school
Teaching multiplication
Teaching division explained
A progression in teaching Fractions
Teaching time
Scales - part 1
Teaching length
Teaching weight

Help your child work with money

Learning about money is a fun activity and can be done at home and in real life with your child in the supermarket or at the beach or park.

Children from the age of four and five should begin to get used to handling money by playing. Introduce children to the concept of money by setting up a shop and labelling packets with prices of 2p, 5p, 10p and 20p. Let one child be the shopkeeper and use the till while others (or you) buy goods from the shop.

As an adult supervises this game, they soon learn to distinguish the coins, to add up their own money and to have a beginning of understanding what they can afford to buy and what is too expensive.

It is a good idea to follow this up by allowing your child to buy their own ice creams or drinks when out in the park, at the swimming pool and on holiday.
If your children are old enough to help with some of the household chores i.e. wash the dishes, clean the car, tidy their bedroom or help by laying the table it may be an incentive to encourage these activities to be done well, encourage in your child a sense of responsibility if they receive a few pence for a job well done. Children should then be encouraged to use this money to buy birthday presents, an extra comic or contribute to a family treat.
Some supermarkets have children’s trolleys and your children could make a list of items that they need i.e. yogurts, squash, apples, shampoo and toothpaste. They really enjoy the experience and it teaches them to appreciate the cost of groceries.
Identifying coins
Match the coin and the price
Money Practice
Money recognition

The ideas above are available on the fully illustrated worksheet shown below.

Ideas to help with maths concepts at home

Try the ideas on our money page too.

Help your child to learn to tell the time

Children need to be able to tell the time and to be able to organise their own time. The holidays are a good time to establish this concept.

It can help, if you have a large clock in the kitchen, to buy your child a small toy clock. Ask them to keep their clock at the same hour as the kitchen clock e.g. after lunch on the way to the park ask them to set their clock to 2:00 o’clock, etc.

Children should match their clock to the kitchen clock frequently during the day. In this way they will learn to associate the time of the day with their own activities.

Progressing from this, the children can be introduced to half hour time and other times.

As you are out and about talk about the time that the bus arrives, the train departs or even the time that the plane leaves and arrives. Tell your child when they go to play what time they are expected there and at what time you will arrive to pick them up.

There are time games that you can play to reinforce the time. 'What time is it Mr Wolf?' is a traditional and fun game which can be played with any number of people and enjoyed both inside and outside.

Draw the time - hours
Time worksheet 1
Time problems for KS2
Time game

Plenty more ideas on our Time pages.

Help your child with measuring

It is good if a child can be made aware of weight by observing, estimating, weighing and comparing.
Which is heavier?
An elephant or a mouse?
Daddy or the girl?
It is good to progress from fun questions like this to actually weighing objects.
Show your child a bag of sugar and a bag of potatoes and let the child suggest which is heaviest and then together using scales weigh both bags.
Have fun with estimates
Young children love to play the game with you of estimation.
Which is heavier?
1) A small paper bag of salt or a large bag of pop corn?
2) A cabbage or a turnip?
Choose other foods from the kitchen and continue with estimation and weighing to find actual weight.
Continue this learning while out at the supermarket buying fruit and vegetables:
  1. Tell your child that you would like six oranges
  2. Explain that they have to pick 6 oranges and put them into a bag and then weigh them.
  3. As they are weighed the machine will print out a ticket for them to stick on the oranges saying how much they weigh and the price of the oranges.
  • As your child does this ask her what would happen if she picked all small oranges?
  • Explain that the cost of the oranges depends on the total weight as they are costed by kilo. (An average orange weighs 255 grams. So 6 oranges would be 1.530 kilo.@ £3.40per kilo)
  • It would be an extension of weighing to ask your child if 1 kilo costs £3.40, what is the cost of 1.5 kilos?
Children can continue this with weighing carrots, potatoes and other vegetables.

Going to the Post office
Take a parcel to the Post Office and allow your child to watch the scales as the parcel is weighed.
Weighing people
What weight is Mum?
What weight is Dad?
What weight is the baby?
Weighing a suitcase.
You can use a spring balance to weigh a suitcase or your child can hold the suitcase and stand on the scales. Then if they weigh themselves they only have to subtract their weight from their weight when holding the case.
You can have fun by asking your child to find things around the house which are longer or shorter than their teddy bear
­­­­­­­­­­­­­­­­­­­­­­­­­­­­­­­­­­­­­­­­­­­­­­­­­­­­­­­­­­­­­­­­­­­­­­­­­­­­­­­­­­­­­­­They can measure these in ‘hands’.
Spread their hand out on a ruler. This will tell you the length of their span. Now they can use their hand to measure their toys.
Measure items found around the house.
You can help your child find objects that are longer or shorter than their footprint.
Now measure with a ruler.
Always be careful to look at the markings on your ruler.

Now use your ruler to measure, for example:
  1. What is the length of this line?
  2. What is the length of this pencil on the ruler?
  3. How many millimetres are there between the arrow and the pencil?
  4. This ruler is marked in centimetres. How long is this line?
Measuring height
Babies have their height measured on birth and from time to time by their mother and doctors.
Some mums have wall charts for measuring height in their children’s rooms.
Use a measure like this to help your child find the height of items around the house
Height of dining room table =
Height of their bed =
Height of the settee=
Height of the television=
All children love playing with water. Using a measuring jug, water and some beakers is great fun and children learn how many beakers a jug with 1 litre of water will fill.
Now use an egg cup, a tea cup and a sauce pan. Let child fill each container with water and pour this water into a measuring jug.

Read the amount of water in each container and fill in a table.

Worksheets on other maths topics