How can I help my child with Maths if my own Maths is no good?

This is a commonly asked question and we suspect is on the minds of even more parents. The same guidance applies to Maths as would apply to English (where lots of parents struggle with grammar rules) or Verbal Reasoning or Non Verbal Reasoning for that matter.

Thinking about the items below should help you.

1/ You are there to help, encourage, praise, support. You are not expected to know everything but you should be able to find out (don’t worry, everyone can).

2/ Make sure your child understands your role, tell them upfront you won’t have all the answers but you’ll do your best to find them.

3/ Have fun with any occasions you don’t know the answer, it will be amusing for your child to see you scratching your head. These ‘shared problem’ situations when correctly handled produce great learning outcomes.

4/ Parents who set themselves up as the ‘boss’ and don’t ever admit fault or not knowing subjects are the ones who do come unstuck. Keep preparation light hearted at all times don’t get stressed out by it, if you set the right tone it can be quite fun.

5/ Try and buy resources where the answers are supplied, but remember where a child gets an answer wrong you need to explain HOW they went wrong. Never ever bluff your child about how to work out an answer, it’s actually quite fun to admit you don’t know and use it as a shared learning exercise.

Let’s look at a situation…… your child comes across a question in a Maths test paper of 11 + standard that you haven’t seen before it says:

46/20 divided by 3/5      your heart sinks….. division of fractions….. no idea.

The first thing to do is to admit you don’t know, children actually can feel really positive when they know you don’t know as well and the process of getting to the answer is actually a very impactful way for them to learn, so involve them.

Go to your computer and plug in a search … something like ‘how to divide fractions’. Inevitably something (free) will be there once you have sifted through the paid for sites and the nonsense.

In this case it will tell you to:

1/ Reverse the second fraction….. so the sum now reads 46/20 divided by 5/3

2/ Change the division sign to times. …. so the sum now reads 46/20 times 5/3

3/ At this point you could cross cancel but we can’t in this sum.

4/ Times the top numbers together and the bottom numbers together…. You get 46 x 5 =230 as the top number and 20×3 =60 as the bottom number … so….. 230/60

5/ You then reduce this to lowest terms and you get 23/6 (3 and 5/6ths) which is your answer.

6/ Then do some more together (design any fractions you like) until you have both got it.

Rather than worrying about not knowing the answer, embrace it. In fact it can produce some very powerful learning outcomes.

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