Tips to help kids understand maths

Back-to-Front Maths is pretty different to how we all learned maths at school.  It uses problem-based teaching, which is a fancy way of saying “if you work it out yourself, then you will understand it forever”.  The idea is to ask kids a series of questions that get them to work out how maths works for themselves, instead of just telling them how to do it.  This creates those “aha” moments that make learning increase in leaps and bounds instead of progressing at a snail’s pace.

Three really important things to try and remember are:

  1. Limit yourself to asking questions and pushing your kids to think and consider options rather than telling them stuff.
  2. Remember that if they give you a weird answer, it is probably a misconception that they really believe.  Try to get them to evaluate their idea and think it through to see if it makes logical sense rather than just telling them that they are wrong.
  3. Memorisation is still really important, but if your child is having trouble understanding a concept then memorisation is not likely to help.  They need to know WHY rather than just doing more of the same.

Here are some things that you can do with your kids at home so that maths becomes part of everyday life.  Click on a topic to read the tips.  Have fun!

Reading to do:

Check out this article by Denise Neal on how to help kids build numeracy.  It is only 2 pages long and has great questions to ask.  Download the one called, Thinking numerately: All children are mathematicians

Basic number concepts:

Measuring:

  • Length
  • Volume
  • Area
  • Time

Geometry:

  • 2D and 3D shapes
  • Flips, slides, turns and symmetry

Chance and Data:

  • Gathering, displaying and dealing with data
  • Likelihood and possibilities


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