Sometimes parents who were not terribly good at maths when they were at school, feel overwhelmed by the thought of helping their children with their maths. So we thought that we would provide you with what we feel are some of the basics for you to brush up on. You’ll be surprised at how much easier things may seem when you look at them with your older, wiser eyes.
Timetables
Having good number skills is one of the most important foundation blocks that children need to build and a lot of this stems from being confident and accurate when calculating numbers. Knowing your timetables is essential for success and confidence in this area. Modelling good skills as a parent can be motivational for a child. If they can see that you are good at your timetables, they will want to learn them to be like you. You can brush up on your own timetable skills simply by downloading an app and using this like a game during adverts while watching TV.
There are hundreds of apps out there to try and here are a few which I have found useful.
Mental Maths by Trilliarden
While this app doesn’t look too fancy or exciting, it supplies different sums and you are required to actually type in the answer – ie there is a fundamental difference between physically typing in the answer and selecting it from a multiplechoice format (which seems to be the case with most other apps). I think with multichoice sometimes you only remember the answer when you see it (ie pattern recognition), but when it’s not there, you really have to understand it to come up with the correct answer. The lite version provides addition, division, square numbers and roman numerals and the questions are mixed (ie not just a 3 times tables sequence). When you answer correctly, a square is uncovered revealing a picture. If you answer incorrectly twice, it will then reveal the correct answer. The full version has 15 different exercises, 4 difficulty levels, an adjustable time limit and statistics for multiple users. At only $1.99 this is good value.
This is really interesting. It’s an actual game which doesn’t feel like maths whereas the others are just a more fun interactive way of practicing a skill. With this app you fly a bird and have to choose between two representations of multiplication. You have to choose the representation of the bigger number. Its aim is to teach a conceptual understanding of mental strategies for multiplication.
A couple of other good ones are Math Bingo by ABCya.com for fun drill practice operations and Medieval Math Battle by Spinfall which has a real game feel – solving sums is the way of progressing through the game. There are swords and treasures and it seems like a lot of fun.
There are also some great maths apps pinned on our Pinterest page.
Fractions
Fractions are a very common stumbling block for most children and it can work wonders for their progress and confidence if their parents are able to help them at home. Even if you struggled with fractions when you were at school, we assure you, you will find the concepts a lot easier to understand now. Take a few minutes to view each of these very short videos to refresh your memory on the steps involved in calculating with fractions.
Improper Fractions and Mixed Numbers
Simplifying Fractions
Adding and Subtracting Fractions
Mulitplying Fractions
Dividing Fractions
Patterns and Algebra
Another major stumbling block students face is when they begin to learn formalized Algebra in Year 7. You can help your child by understanding why they suddenly find things so much more challenging. This might help to put things into perspective for you. According to the Australian National Curriculum the only “Algebra” that is done in Year 6 is:

Continue and create sequences involving whole numbers, fractions and decimals. Describe the rule used to create the sequence
Then they enter Year 7, their first year of high school and they cover all of the following:

Introduce the concept of variables as a way of representing numbers using letters

Create algebraic expressions and evaluate them by substituting a given value for each variable

Extend and apply the laws and properties of arithmetic to algebraic terms and expressions

Given coordinates, plot points on the Cartesian plane, and find coordinates for a givenpoint

Solve simple linear equations

Investigate, interpret and analyse graphs from authentic data
Maths Terminology
Google should be your best friend when your child needs help and you are unfamiliar with the terminology or cannot quite remember from your school days. But one of our favourite places to go for definitions and examples is The Maths is Fun Illustrated Maths Dictionary. The explanations and examples are simple and clear and they cover the most basic concepts right through to higher order advanced maths terms.
Hopefully you will find brushing up on your skills in these key areas easier than you first thought. And don’t forget, we are always here to help!
Photo credit: cplong11 / Foter / CC BYNCSA