Making maths part of everyday life (Ages 3-7)
This is one of the best ways for children to feel confident in using and working with numbers.
For example, with younger children, counting is very important: How many teddies on the shelf? How many apples in the bag? Then working out one more, two more and three more than the number, helps mathematical thinking.
Practice matching objects and getting over the concept ‘same as’: Please fetch me a spoon the same as this. Use words which communicate comparisons: Which is the tallest/shortest tree?
As a parent, helping your child to develop the logic behind the basic data handling skills is easily done as it is very much part of everyday life. For example, finding what drink their friends want when visiting is a data handling exercise. Planning a party, a trip out, making shopping lists, etc. are other examples.
Have fun developing this area together.
How measuring is taught in schools
In schools, children learn how to use both uniform non-standard units (e.g. estimating then finding out how many matchsticks would fit across a book) and standard units (e.g. estimating then using a ruler marked in centimetres to measure and compare objects).
They start off using metres, then learn about smaller units (centimetres) and the connection between them; in a similar way, kilograms and grams, and litres and millilitres.
A lot of practical work is carried out in lessons. Activities include weighing objects using balances and weights to find which is heaviest, finding out which of a number of containers holds the most/least by filling them and counting how many cups of water each holds.
How to help
At this stage, the basic skill of how to measure lengths correctly and read scales accurately is very important. Helping them to know how to use a ruler to make accurate measurements by checking that they start measuring from the correct place on a ruler, is a very important way you can help as some children find this confusing. Estimating, for example, which mug do you think holds the most water, and then checking, is an important skill in this area and you can help in this as you go about your everyday life with your child. Get to know with your child how long 1cm, 10cm, 1m looks like.
Another way to help is by together weighing out ingredients for cooking. And when you are putting away shopping, let them help and talk about heavier and lighter objects.
Lastly, they need to realise that even though the units are different, we solve problems using the usual methods of addition, subtraction, multiplication and division.
Making maths part of everyday life (Ages 7-11)
It is vitally important that children can read scales accurately, from all sorts of practical situations, and this is one way that parents can help.
Here are some suggestions:
- Do some DIY with your child. Measure shelves, lengths of rooms etc. (As a rough guide, by about Year 5, children measure to the nearest mm.)
- Do some cooking, for example, bake a cake. Measure out the ingredients, both liquid and solid as required, and read the scales accurately with your child
Look at some train timetables and work out lengths of journeys, and times between each station (Year 5).
Plan an outing using trains and buses with your child. Have fun!