At this week’s Family Maths Moves! event, we had the opportunity to chat with some of the wonderful parents who attended about their approach to maths as well as any resources that they use or have discovered. We believe that maths moments can be created by anyone and that the parents who attend our sessions are usually some of the most creative and adventurous out there!
Here is a summary of our discussion and some of the resources mentioned as well as some of our ideas about creating your own moments of maths.
Following children’s passions is a great start to getting a healthy relationship with numbers going. One of the parents has used this successfully with both her children. When her son was into dinosaurs (a common passion amongst children), she found ways for that to include numbers, comparisons of size etc. and this became part of the knowledge that her son was hungry for. Cooking was another one. This might not develop more sophisticated mathematical ideas but can help to build a very firm foundation counting and adding/subtracting numbers which is so necessary.
Exploring maths at home together can be more of a relaxed family affair compared to homework or tests. Enrichment is a great way to build engagement and broader yet deeper mathematical thinking and problem-solving skills, all of which support curriculum work at school. We’ve shared some great resources further down the page. Here are some approaches that we recommend:
- Adopt a ‘let’s see what we can find out’ or better still a ‘let’s see what we can find out together’ approach, over a ‘we need a right answer’ – this allows for children to relax and enjoy the experience and build confidence in their own way of thinking and expressing, without fear of getting it wrong. Building to the ‘right’ answer or answers can be a slower process, with the process of problem-solving skills being practised and celebrated above just the right answer
- Deepen discussion and your own or your child’s curiosity and investigations with open questions – questions which can’t be answered with a ‘yes’ or a ‘no’ such as ‘How can we make this bigger?’. You will find examples of open questions like these in our challenges and some of the websites listed below.
- Make Practice Playful – This can be by making games out of practice or highlighting the practice that happens naturally e.g. in dice games. Practice is usually necessary to start enjoying more complicated maths ideas.
- Think of maths more as a language or art than as a body of knowledge. This might mean that you get to know particular numbers in different ways (much as you might with words or phrases). Treating maths as a body of knowledge would be like trying to learn a language using a phrase book or dictionary. You have to experiment with the words and phrases and this is a good thing to do with mathematical objects and patterns also
Some useful tools
- Recommended by a parent (Thank you!)
Online Practice and Enrichment
- Folding Blocks
- Rolling Blocks
- DragonBox and WeWantToKnow apps
- 2048 or 2248 web or mobile apps
Maths Courses for Adults
Many adults have suffered from a poor maths education and may feel like they would like to upskill in some way. We heard a really inspiring story of a dad who realised that he wanted to improve his maths. He was not sure that he would be able to and so started trying to learn how to do a Rubik’s cube. He figured if he learnt to do that he could take a course in maths and do well in that.
He learnt to do a Rubik’s cube in 8 months and still practises every day to ensure he doesn’t forget. Once he could do that, he enrolled on a Level 1 Functional Skills course and then a Level 2 once he had passed that. I guess he went on to do GCSE and who knows what else.
Much of his motivation was to be able to help his children with maths but also it lead to setting a great example for them.
Here are a couple of ways to start getting into maths by taking courses:
Open University – Starting with maths: Patterns and formulas. This is a free course that helps you to broaden your understanding of what maths is
Functional Maths courses at Further Education Colleges. Nearly all Further Education Colleges will offer functional maths courses as well as GCSE Maths for adults wishing to retake maths
Natural Math is a company based in the USA. They offer lots of support to parents wishing to change the way maths is presented to their children. It’s also a great way to learn
If you have any tips, resources or ideas that you think might help other parents, please add to the comments below. Thanks.
See you next time 🙂