Understanding maths sometimes isn’t really as easy as 1,2,3, so thanks to Ladybird Senior Editor Nicola Bird and Ladybird Editor Jane Baldock for this helpful overview on what your child will learn in maths during the first years of primary school, plus some great tips and advice on how best to support your child in their maths learning (and the chance to win three sets of Ladybird I’m Ready… for Maths! sticker workbooks and flash cards!).
One of the things that can be most daunting for a parent when children start school is how to best help them with maths, especially if you don’t feel too confident in the subject yourself to begin with! Sometimes it might seem that addition, subtraction, multiplication and division are all taught very differently to what you experienced, and it’s only natural to worry that you are hindering rather than helping.
At Ladybird, we try to make everything as straightforward as possible and to support both you and your child in this process. We include parent hints and tips in all of our maths activity books and flashcards, and work closely with consultants and teachers to ensure our books are suitable for using alongside the curriculum – so you can feel confident that you are practising the same maths skills with your child that they will be learning at school.
How much should my child know about maths before starting school?
Some children are naturally more confident with numbers than others but don’t worry if your child doesn’t seem quite as au fait to begin with. Whilst it is helpful for a Reception-age child to have some knowledge of the numbers 1-20, schools will introduce first numbers and early mathematical understanding from the beginning. Children are encouraged to practise number skills frequently and in a variety of ways in order to develop their confidence and begin to use maths knowledge to solve problems.
What will my child first learn at school?
Addition and Subtraction: At first your child will probably start to use a number line to help them add and subtract and to count up in twos, fives and tens.
Later on, children will be learning to count up to 100 (forwards and backwards). They will be learning how to add and subtract one-digit and two-digit numbers and will become fluent in the numbers up to twenty – learning how to write them as words as well as numerals.
Multiplying and Dividing: A sound knowledge of times tables is key to learning how to multiply and divide. Young children usually meet the two times table first. Counting up in 2s (2, 4, 6, 8…) is a good way to prepare for learning the 2 times table.
Times Tables: A multiplication (or times tables) grid is often used in school to help children to see the patterns in each times table and to see the connections between them. It’s a useful tool for showing children which tables they need more practice with.
Telling the time: Ability to tell the time from both analogue and digital clocks is another element of the national curriculum in maths at primary school. Most children are familiar with digital displays but they also need to recognise the position of hands on a clock, understanding that the big hand shows the minutes and the small hand shows the hour.
Shapes: From when they first start school, children will start to encounter shapes. They will become more confident in identifying 2D and 3D shapes as they move from Reception year to Year 1. Being able to count sides and corners (angles) is an important part of first maths learning.
Coins and value: Recognising the values of different coins is also part of the curriculum. The idea that different coins have different values can be difficult to grasp and young children often think that several coins must be worth more than one coin. Practising making up amounts of money using different combinations of coins helps to reinforce coin recognition.
What can I do to help at home?
Even before children start school it’s good to try and make numbers and counting a part of everyday life so they have some early understanding of the concepts. Encourage your child to touch and count everyday objects, or try making numerals from playdough. Also, bring counting into your conversations – count how many stairs you are going down, or how many blocks are needed to build a house, for example. It’s also great to talk about the different sorts of shapes you can see around you.
For more targeted practice, the Ladybird I’m Ready for Maths sticker activity books introduce the main maths themes and concepts that are first taught in Key Stage 1 (age 5 to 7) and are a good way to practise concepts like telling the time, shapes and simple sums in a fun, motivational way. Each book has over 80 stickers to help complete activities and the pages are colourful and easy to use. Every activity has a short parent note alongside it so you know exactly what it is teaching your child and why it is useful. There’s even a glossary at the back for all the maths terms your child will probably know from school, but you might find confusing!
It’s also fun to play with the Times Tables flashcards, as children learn well through repetition. Hold a card up with your thumb covering the answer in the corner and see how many your child can rattle off in one minute. Can they beat their record the next day?
WIN a set of Ladybird I’m Ready… for Maths! books and flash cards
We have THREE bundles of Ladybird I’m Ready… for Maths! Sticker work books and Times Tables Flash cards up for grabs! Just leave a comment below letting us know what your children love about maths – or what they find tricky – and we will put your name into the hat and pull out three winners at random. Good luck!
T&Cs: Leave your comment by midnight Saturday 21st February 2015. Winners will be notified by email by Wednesday 25th February 2015.