It is Maths Week this week. I have to confess that Maths is my favourite subject; I know some people will think that is a bit strange but I firmly believe that Maths is not a hard subject that only a few people are good at. I believe that when Maths is well taught it is a subject that everyone can enjoy success at.
If Maths is a subject that your child finds easy and enjoys then great! Children who are good at Maths need to be extended so that they don’t become bored. Have a look at what they are doing on Mathletics; if they have completed the activities or they are finding them too easy, talk to your child’s teacher about adjusting the level or contact Shane Robinson (email@example.com). Challenge them with “hard” Maths questions around the dinner table or when you in the car. Remember to ask them, “How did you work that out?” and get them to explain their thinking. My own three kids loved answering challenging questions and it also kept them quiet for 2 mins in the car while they were working it out! Now my daughter Hannah is solving linear equations for NCEA level 1. I don’t have to think up questions like 40 x 13 anymore.
If Maths is a subject that your child finds hard and they are not particularly enjoying, then I believe the most important thing you can do is to affirm that they can do it and continue to have high expectations for them in Maths. This is true especially for our girls. Comments like, “I was never any good at maths ask your father” are not helpful. Try practising basic facts regularly and focus on successes. Focus on how many questions they can do and keep a record. It is great to be able to look back and say, “I used to be able to do 13 questions in 2 minutes and now I can do 20”. Focus on reading, writing and saying numbers. For Year 1 and 2’s this might be numbers to 100, Year 3 and 4’s numbers to 1000, and Year 5 and above numbers to 1,000,000 and beyond. Looking at place value is also really important. It is important to know that in the number 90 there are nine tens and 90 ones. In the number 430 there are 43 tens altogether. I would also encourage you to put Maths questions in a context like cooking, woodwork, sewing or shopping. Using the language of Maths is really important.
A fun place to start is the Maths week website www.mathsweek.org.nz . There are daily challenges and games. You can sign up as a student, and parents can sign up too. You don’t need to sign up to play the games.
If you have any comments about the way we teach Maths at school that you would like to pass on, you can write them on my blog or email me, firstname.lastname@example.org .