Thank you for all that you are doing during these unprecedented times to support us.
We recognise that mathematics teaching may well look or feel different to how we were taught and wanted to provide some guidance on this, along with links to useful websites and resources to support your children. We hope that you find this useful – please let us know if there is anything you would like added in the future.
Why is Mathematics so important?
DfE National Curriculum, 2014: ‘Mathematics is a creative and highly interconnected discipline. It is essential to everyday life, critical to science, technology and engineering, and necessary for financial literacy and most forms of employment.’
Within the Leigh Academies Trust we believe that studying mathematics is about curiosity and creativity, that mathematics develops essential skills our pupils will need in life beyond school. The subject will give children a way to understand and change the world, build logical reasoning, problem-solving skills, and the ability to think in abstract ways. We want children to enjoy and develop confidence in maths, discovering and making connections.
Mathematics is a powerful way to communicate, especially in an increasingly technology centric society. It is, therefore, important for children to share their mathematical thinking, as it will build deep understanding and develop their confidence within the subject.
Why is Mathematics being taught like this?
Although it may seem at times like the maths your child is studying is confusing or different to how we were taught, there has been research and data to prove how much this is helping children understand and build positive relationships with mathematics. There is a real focus on conceptual, deep understanding, which will hopefully mean that children do not create misconceptions, such as x by 10 means you add a 0 (not helpful for decimals, such as 10 x 0.75) or x makes a number bigger (x by 1, 0, fractions or decimals are an issue here). These misconceptions, when they lead to wrong answers, eventually weaken confidence and create maths anxiety.
When we were children we were generally taught how to fluently and efficiently find answers using a set of steps, actions or procedures we were given – we were taught procedural knowledge. This is still valid and has a part to play in how we teach children now. However, by teaching for conceptual knowledge, we are trying to get children to understand procedures deeply enough that they can choose for themselves the method for the specific question in front of them; they will be able to use this understanding to reason and make efficient decisions. It is giving them the tools to be in control so that they make choices about the most efficient way to approach their work, hopefully building mathematical resilience which leads to confidence in their own abilities.
“We want kids to demonstrate deep understanding through multiple representations, which include drawings, area models and word problems. Procedures and shortcuts are also taught, but not until the student can explain why those shortcuts work. We like our students to get the right answer, but we need them to know why it’s the right answer.
The reason for teaching conceptual understanding is to help students to see connections between the math they’re learning and the math they already know. This can be especially empowering for kids with learning and thinking differences. It prepares them to solve the real-world problems they will face in the future.” Ginny Oswalt
This is not something that happens quickly. Our children are on a learning journey towards a deep, conceptual understanding of mathematics. This will take time; there may be bumps on the journey, where things seem difficult but the journey is worth it. We know because we have seen the benefits; the lightbulb moments, the smiles because they ‘get it’, their increased confidence in talking about mathematics. We know we are preparing them them with life skills. It is worth it.
Maths Curriculum: What will my child be learning?
We follow the National Curriculum for maths – click here for the government guidance.
Third Space Learning
How can I support my child?
Recent research funded by the Department for Education and Skills and the Wellcome Trust showed how important parents are as part of a pupil’s success in maths. They also found that for primary pupils, attainment in maths was heavily influenced by their attitudes to maths. They found primary school children who like maths gain almost a year of learning, compared with children who dislike the subject the most, by the time they reach secondary school.
‘Maths for Mums and Dads’, written by Rob Eastaway and Mike Askew has useful advice, such as:
What are the DOs and DON’Ts for helping my child?
- Play maths with your child – games are fun, full of maths and mathematical thinking.
- Make maths a casual part of what you do – there are the three Cs of everyday maths: ‘cash, clocks and cooking’ – these are the perfect opportunities to practise maths.
- Recognise there’s more than one way for calculations – there isn’t a single method that is the best method for all problems and we should also shouldn’t force a method that means nothing to them.
- DON’T…expect them to ‘get it’ after you’ve explained it once; it can take a little longer.
- DON’T…tell them that you are hopeless at maths – it will build up an expectation that maths is going to be something they won’t enjoy or succeed in, and ultimately won’t be any use to them. Click here for research on attitudes to maths.
Please read on for links to further useful resources, websites and guidance.
Manipulatives to Support Understanding
In school we use a Concrete-Pictorial-Abstract approach, which means that we use physical and visual aids to help children build an understanding of abstract ideas. We introduce new ideas through the use of concrete resources (Numicon, blocks,bead strings, counters…).
These objects, pictures and models can help children understand the mathematics in ideas that are abstract.
We can also use them as a challenge – to prove our thinking, to show our working out or represent something in a different way.
At the moment we are sadly not able to use our schools’ manipulatives – if your child would like to use resources to help them show their ideas, there are websites that provide free online versions:
We may not be in school with our brilliant manipulative resources but people are finding resources at home that can represent numbers, calculations or our mathematical thinking.
Some of the images below come from children in our schools and others have been shared via White Rose Twitter – hopefully they give ideas on resources we have at home. Food seems to feature a lot and the bonus of using Smarties or Skittles as counters is that you can eat them when you’re finished!
Clever Tens Frames:
Plates are useful for grouping:
Key Stage 2 are using them too:
There is a real focus on getting children to think and explain their mathematical thinking, using exact mathematical vocabulary.
To help you support your child in understanding and using this vocabulary:
- Maths is Fun illustrated maths dictionary
- STEM Mathematical Vocabulary book
- Oxford Owl maths glossary
- Early Years BBC Learning at Home
- KS1 BBC Bitesize Maths
- KS2 BBC Bitesize Maths
- Math is Fun – you can search for specific guidance or click on links – provides easy to understand help including pictures and videos
Suggestions for activities to help your child practise skills:
- Family Maths Toolkit – useful ideas for 3 to 13 year olds and guidance on what they are learning
- Herts for Learning YouTube channel – some great videos explaining how to play maths games
- Oxford Owl – guidance by year group, by strand, blogs and videos
Online games to practise maths skills:
- Top Marks Maths Games – choose age range (3-5, 5-7, 7-11) and the category of maths you want to practise
- Maths Frame – KS2 maths games – scroll down the homepage to choose which category
- IT games – KS1 maths games
Number fact online practice games:
- TT Rockstars – you will need your school log in
- Hit the Button – times tables, halves and doubles, number bonds
- TimesTables – resources to practise times table facts
Mr Roach has also began to create a few YouTube videos to support with learning at home; these are available at: