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Maths Homework Ideas For Kids

Teachers talk about how parents can help kids understand maths homework.

At a glance

  • Maths today is about understanding number patterns, not learning by rote.
  • Saying "I was bad as maths too" is one of the worst things you can do as it lowers their own expectations of themselves.
  • There is always more than one way to get the right answer.
  • Children are taught mental strategies, like using number lines, to figure problems out in their heads
  • Ask "What is the question asking you?"
  • Practise the times tables
  • Don't jump in with the answers.
  • Stay positive.
  • Talk to the teacher if your child needs more help with the homework.

transcript

Narrator
If maths wasn't your best subject at school, trying to help your child can be nerve wracking, especially since it seems so different now.  Here are some tips from experienced teachers.

Laurinda Lomas
The way that we teach mathematics is different these days.

Kerrie Shaw
The focus now is not on the right answer; it's more on the strategies you're using to work that out.

The strategies might look different, but in actual fact the process and the answer are still the same.                                       

Sue-Ellen Chilvers
We teach for understanding in maths now. There's a lot of what we, as children, would have learned – just rote learned things. How to do addition and how to do subtraction was just purely rote often without understanding, where the way maths is taught now is about understanding.

Sara Chambers
Whereas a lot of the parents would be used to doing sums where you write one number on top of the other, add or subtract, we don't focus a lot on that until the children are probably in Year 4.

Before that we really focus on working it out in their head, using mental strategies to work it out.

Because the way that we do it mentally, they have a better understanding of the process that's involved.

For example if you were given a number sentence 32 plus 12, instead of writing those one on top of the other and adding them, you would start with 32 and add on 10 to give 42 and then add another two on. So it's teaching children to be able to do it without pen and paper and to be able to really understand numbers and how they work.

Laurinda Lomas
There's more than one way to get to a right answer and we help children figure out the best way that makes sense to them to get to that answer.

Sue-Ellen Chilvers
We're constantly encouraging children to work things out in more than one way, as a way to check their accuracy.

Sara Chambers
It will surprise you what they can do, and using number lines to help them count. And the ruler, they can use the ruler to help them jump along and count.

Josh Stevens
Now we're finding that children learn better, especially with maths, with a hands-on activity.

Kylie Hill
It's more group activities ... problem-solving tasks in all the areas of maths, not just sitting down and doing a hundred algebra questions in an hour. It's very different.

Sara Chambers
And I'd also say that, as hard as it is, don't just jump in and tell the answer or how to do it exactly. Good phrases would be: "Well how do you think we could go about working this out?", "What would you do if you were in school? "

Steve Harper
The key thing to helping a student with mathematics is to find out where the problem is.

Sara Chambers
Talk to them about "What's the problem asking you?" and then, "What strategy could you use?".  "Do you need to use addition, do you need to use division, do you need to use multiplication?"

Steve Harper
Because mathematics is modularised, in other words, we have units that we learn which are like little bricks I suppose, if you can find out which little brick is a bit loose and then straighten it up, then you can build on that.

Maths is a very learnable subject and if you take it step by step, people can experience success in it.

Susan Turnbull
If children can learn the times tables before they get into Year 7, that makes an enormous difference. If they're confident with their times tables they're a lot more confident with their numbers and mathematics in general.

Elizabeth Vincent
I find that when children get into my classroom, sometimes they've already picked up what their parents do and don't feel confident about.

Steve Harper
Parents need to be positive about mathematics with their kids – even if they struggled with it at home themselves. They need maintain a positive attitude with their kids, and not make excuses for their kids.

"Oh I was bad at maths at school, so that's probably why you're bad at maths at school."

Amanda Schofield
For a parent to say to a child, "I was poor at maths," is probably the worst thing that can happen because that gives the child the green light not to try themselves. Better to say, "I tried".

Josh Stevens
If you get frustrated, try to keep it in and just move on to the next question.

Laurinda Lomas
I tell parents not to be afraid of maths because we're using it a lot every day and we use it in very natural situations.

Michael Clark
What I generally tell parents though is if your kid is having a little bit of problem in their homework, just write the teacher a short note.

Most teachers will find time then to sit down and revise that concept with the student till they can properly understand it.

Basically all teachers are there to teach children and they don't feel successful either if the child doesn't know the concept.

Narrator
You'll also find lots more videos, fact sheets and articles about maths and homework at www.schoolatoz.com.au

Maths is not my strong point.

Words and pictures are my forte.

So panic is beginning to set in as my children move through primary school at the rate of knots, and bring home more and more homework.

It's dawning on me that very soon, their little mathematical problems, like colour in half an apple that I can currently solve, will soon become big problems for me.

I can always ask Professor Google, but as we all know there are difficulties teaching anyone a concept when you don't fully grasp it yourself.

A maths tutor is one idea, but being a mother that feels guilty outsourcing anything — I'd like to be able to help my kids out with their maths homework without throwing pencils in frustration and tears (my own).

As more and more children look set to head into careers within the STEM skill set — science, technology, engineering and maths — more and more parents are having to support their children through tricky homework that involves complex problem solving and mathematical thinking.

So if you're not brilliant at maths — or even average at it — just breathe and count to ten, as there are some easy ideas right here to help your children with maths.

Here’s what you can do to build your child maths skills, even when you might not possess the skills yourself ...

1. Jump on your smartphone or tablet and download these maths skill-enhancing apps

Enhancing a child’s ability to visualise objects in 2D and 3D has actually been proven to increase their maths skills.

Samsung has found technology-enabled activities that encourage visualising objects and space can significantly improve a child’s mathematics skills.

What this means for you is that improving your child’s STEM skills can be as simple and fun as downloading any of the following apps:

  • Origami Paper SnipSnap: an open-ended paper engineering app which helps children to create complex designs for a partner to solve;
  • Mandalar: based on pattern blocks, this app explores the relationships between shapes and other mathematical concepts;
  • GeoGebra: a dynamic mathematics tool that allows children to visualise and manipulate 2D and 3D mathematical models.

2. Challenge their use of words

Language is one of the most important aspects of learning to think spatially.

If your child is between 3 and 7, using words such as ‘top’, ‘under’, ‘between’ or ‘rotate’ will help your child to think of an object in various aspects.

If your child is aged 8 or older, use more precise language such as ‘360-degree turn’ and ‘visualise’.

Using specific spatial language will encourage your children to think visually and in turn improve their competence in maths.

3. Take some snaps

Take advantage of your child’s interest in technology by encouraging them to take more photos.

Using photography to explore different perspectives and angles will increase their understanding of the spaces around them, and in turn increase their competency in mathematics.

To help your child explore everything around them in detail you can download Magnifier & Microscope – a great app which turns your smart device into a functional and easy to use magnifier.

4. Pack the dishwasher…

Now this is one mum's everywhere will love.

Although it might take some convinvcing, everyday tasks around the house can help build your child’s spatial reasoning ability, and therefore increase their competence in maths.

Simple tasks like unpacking the dishwasher or making the bed will help develop strong spatial reasoning and problem-solving skills.

5. Go exploring

Children are natural born adventurers, and by creating or using the map app on your smart phone you can have some fun while building your child’s maths skills. Take your child exploring, give and follow directions and help develop their understanding of the space around them.

6. Play with blocks and puzzles

For younger children, playing with puzzles and playing with blocks can be both fun and educational for your child.

Tangrams, jigsaw puzzles and block play have all been proven to increase a child’s spatial reasoning ability.

Remember you could also download Mandalar, the app which explores the relationships between shapes and other mathematical concepts.

For tips to make your parenting life a whole lot better, tune into our hit podcast Honey Mums ...

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