Parenting Tips 101 – Dealing with maths madness

To help your child visualise and understand a maths question, try turning the problem into a picture. Children often have no problems with sums if these mean something to them, rather than just being abstract numbers.


Try to connect maths to your child’s particular area of interest, such as football scores, geographical statistics, and even Minecraft.

The best way to help children understand the concept of negative numbers is to show them an outdoor thermometer with its vertical number line including zero. You can also bring them to a shopping mall where lifts go one or two floors below ground level. This is useful to illustrate how negative numbers work.

Think of alternative ways to teach something that is difficult. For instance, 7 X 8 often causes problems. But if you put it in terms of 5, 6, 7, 8 or 56 = 7 X 8, it will become easier to remember.

Make sure your child realises that if they know 3 X 8 = 24, they also know the answer to 8 X 3, 24 divided by 8, and 24 divided by 3.

Sometimes it pays to wait. Some maths problems occur because the child is not developmentally ready to understand the next stage.

Finger trick
Hold both your hands up and imagine the fingers are numbered 1 to 10 from left to right. Fold down the finger number you want to multiply by 9, then count how many fingers there are to the left to give you the 10s and to the right for the units. For instance, fold down finger number 4 and you will see three fingers to the left to give you 30 and six fingers to the right to give you 6. So 4 X 9 = 36.

Five key things you can do to help with maths

1. Practise the times tables. Make it as fun as you can but make sure your child knows them well.

2. Learn the square numbers up to 100. These are almost as useful as the times tables.

3. Make maths and number play part of everyday life. The more familiar your child is, the more confident he or she will be.

4. Never admit to not liking maths yourself.

5. Have fun with numbers – they are just as necessary as words.

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