Maths. A heinous word for so many. However, the loathing it inspires usually derives from a lack of understanding of its basic concepts from an early age. Admittedly, some people will always find some mathematical concepts challenging, but there are little tricks that can help to partially overcome these.
It's crucial children learn their times tables thoroughly and are able to recall them rapidly. Instant recall of these facts allows them to understand other principles of Maths and helps them hugely with their mental maths. There are a variety of different techniques to learn times tables, some of which depend on a person's preferred learning style. Visual learners tend to prefer seeing the tables written down, learning them by sight. Kinaesthetic learners prefer to learn through doing, so games and activities where they can be "up and about" are ideal. Aural learners may benefit from the dreaded times tables CDs! (Enjoy!)
Practise pairs of numbers that add up to 10, 20 and then 100. Being able to recall these facts instantly, develops children's mental maths and helps them to spot patterns in more complex sums. Once again, playing games which include number bonds can be really helpful- games like Maths Snakes and Ladders and Pontoon are great. Cuisenaire rods are also a fantastic resource, allowing children to physically see and manipulate numbers.
Learning doubles and near doubles to 20, then 100 means that children can use them to solve more difficult calculations, particularly using compensation techniques- e.g. 16+15= 15+15=30= 31.
Place value system
An understanding of the place value system, working out what each digit stands for in a number (123- 100, 20, 3), is fundamental to children's future progress in Maths. A solid grasp and they have the base to build more complex understandings; shaky, and untold problems lie in wait. Practise saying numbers out loud and partitioning (splitting them up into different columns) them.
Interesting and engaging maths websites can help hugely with children's maths. Many are enjoyed as much as "non-educational", popular games- they are learning without even realising it! Have a look at our other blog post on brilliant resources for a full list of the best ones.
Being able to physically see the make-up of numbers and hold them, makes learning more accessible, particularly for those kinaesthetic learners. Things like cubes, Cuisenaire rods and fraction bars etc are all valuable resources to help deepen children's understanding.
Alongside this, provide supportive materials like number lines or 100 squares to aid children with their calculations, especially those who find it difficult to visualize calculations.
Reinforce Number and Counting Concepts
For young children, it is vital they recognise the numbers up to 10 and can relate them to real-life. Practise touch-counting objects up to 10 and encourage them to position them in different ways to help counting. Reinforce the principle that anything can be counted. Encourage counting of everyday things, like the leaves on a tree, the number of dogs in the park or silver cars. Whatever it is, count it! Clapping when counting cements a rhythm. Gradually move onto counting backwards and in larger steps, such as 3 and 10.
Utilize other Talents
Utilize other strengths children may possess, to engage their interest in maths. If they are talented writers, get them to create word problems. Perhaps a gifted artist could be encouraged to draw things to count or look at constructing different shapes.
The most important thing is to try and make maths as accessible and enjoyable as it can possibly be. If children switch off from it at a young age, it becomes all the harder to switch them back on it when they're older.