News » Helping your child with mathsLast updated 10:56 AM on 15 September 2011
Success in maths in the later years of school is dependent on developing a solid understanding of the foundational concepts: addition, subtraction, multiplication and division.
Maths expert and parent, Associate Professor Janette Bobis from the University of Sydney, gives her top tips on how young kids can become confident in maths.
Have a positive attitude towards maths
When parents tell their children that they themselves can't do it, it means they're communicating messages that it's OK not to be good at maths, which can carry all the way through high school.
Talk to your child about maths in everyday life
Talking to children about how maths is important in their everyday life makes it relevant and real. Some ideas are:
- cooking in the kitchen (measurement)
- operating a microwave oven (numbers and counting backwards)
- stacking containers in the cupboard (shapes)
- finding a certain house number down the street (counting by twos).
Play games to show you're interested in maths
Playing games that involve cards or dice provides valuable opportunities to show that maths matters and helps them to become better mathematicians.
Ask your child to explain how they work things out
What we've found through years of research is that even young children have quite sophisticated thinking strategies for solving maths problems. We need to communicate to them that their ways of thinking are just as important as finding out the answer.
Look at patterns with your child
Asking your child to identify patterns – whether it's a pattern in a sequence of numbers, the beads in a necklace or the way bricks are arranged in a pathway – is helpful because through patterns, children identify structure.
Get your child to work things out in their head
Kids are encouraged to work things out in their mind in the early years of school rather than using pen and pencil to work out number problems, because it leads to a deeper understanding of the maths involved.