Maths is not a subject in which I have much natural talent, which in practical terms means that my Maths teaching and curriculum have never been particularly inspiring. Having said that, this is, like sciences, a subject in which my children have all done well thus far (my eldest gained AS Maths, my second son an equivalent OU qualification as part of his Science degree, and my third son is planning to study the A level and possibly to degree level). My point is that my own lack of enthusiasm or ‘giftedness’ in Maths has not held them back at all, so don’t despair at teaching Maths if you are not too good at it yourself! Maths is one of those subjects which is so central to the curriculum that there is an almost unlimited supply of on-line materials/courses/support for every level, from pre-school to A level at home. Really, you just have to choose your text/course and get on with it. If you feel you are explaining something badly, check on-line and get some help. This is actually one of the good things about home-ed: if there are gaps in your own knowledge in, say, grammar or Maths, you can make good those deficiencies whilst teaching your children. That seems reasonable enough, especially when you are talking about primary level education. If your child seems to be struggling at any point, looking online and find a different way of approaching the problem area can often clear things up. Sometimes, all that is needed is for a topic to be explained in a slightly different way for all to become clear. Don’t feel restricted by the course/book you are using as your base-programme: every resource has its limitations and in Maths in particular a fresh approach can really help (I don’t generally encourage the use of computer games during lesson times, but one of my sons mysteriously progressed with learning his times tables when, at the computer, he had to beat his personal best at shooting down rockets bearing the answers to multiplication questions…).
Early years Maths I think there is a general consensus that in the early, preparatory years (c ages 4-6), Maths is best taught with as many manipulatives as possible so that the child can visualise what is going on. Personally, I love Cuisinaire rods, though I am sure that being non-mathematically minded I don’t use them half as effectively as I could. But you don’t need anything expensive: anything a child can count (shells, buttons etc.) can be used not just for basic counting but for a host of other mathematical operations. You really don’t need to make any big investments at this stage. With just a few minutes work a day, and lots of conversation observing mathematical concepts during daily life together (especially when cooking!) you’ll find you have already made good inroads into the KS2 curriculum with plenty of counting, sorting, doubling, halving, shapes, measuring and so on. If you want to follow an established curriculum, MEP Maths is free and effective, and is used by increasing numbers of home-educators. It can take you all the way through GCSE if you want to use it that far. The year by year objectives from MEP could be used as a simple guide to what your child would typically be expected to know by the end of each year: Year 1, age 5-6 ; Year 2 , age 6-7 Alternatively, if you know the order in which you want to study topics but want some worksheets to practice on, try something like snappymaths or primaryworksheets.
Stage 1 (c 4-5) MATHS
Aim 1: To count to at least 20, or as far as child wants to.
This is mainly verbal. Count anything you can! Playing dice games is a good way to get a child counting the dots so he can play proper games such as dominoes and ‘Ladybirds‘ (this has been a firm favourite here for years).
Aim 2: To recognise and order numerals to 10 (or 20)
Label (or buy) some cards with the numbers 1-10. Place each next to the same number of objects (e.g. shells, beads – whatever the child likes). Use jigsaws and games to reinforce the connection between the number of objects and the written digit which represents it. When he knows the numbers well, have him order them – first 1-5, then 6-10, then all at once. If this is very easy, go through the process again with numbers to 20 (first teach the number, then have him order the cards). You can carry on with this process just making more cards as he learns more numbers. Also, you can vary the game by laying a row of cards in sequence but missing some out: give him the missing ones and let him put them in the correct places.
Aim 3: To say one more or less to 10 (or 20)
Start this off as a verbal game. Say any number up to 10 (or 20) and ask your child to say the number which is one more than it. So, if you say 6, he says 7. Gradually start to play it with the cards. Give any card, then ask your child to place next to it whichever number comes next in the sequence. Using cards helps to reinforce his number recognition. When he can do this easily, play the game again this time asking for one less than the given number. Working out ‘one more’ is easier as this simply involves counting up one. Working out one less than any number involved going backwards and so it a little trickier.
Shape and Space
Aim 1: To recognise 2D shapes
Use any 2D shapes (card, picture, jigsaw, insets…) and teach him the names. Look for objects with these shapes around the house. It helps to draw large shapes and have him decorate/colour them. If he likes this, introduce more shapes. You could do a simple classification game – make lots of cards with different shapes – a mixture of all flat sides, all round sides and a mix of both. Have the child sort them into types. This can include ‘made up’ shapes as the aim of this game is not to identify but to classify.
Aim 2: To use measuring vocabulary
This involves knowing how to use correctly measuring words (heavier/lighter/bigger/ smaller/ longer/shorter) and position words (on, over, under, near, beside, left and right). This is included in the National Curriculum and you will find it ‘tested’ in any workbooks aimed at this age, but in all likelihood, if you talk to your child a lot and include him in your daily life, he
will already be perfectly good at using this vocabulary correctly by the age of five!
Aim: to know days of week, months of year, seasons
The easiest way to fix these in a child’s mind is through rhymes and songs. The seasons are picked up through observing the changes through the year, but you can always use a set of pictures and help your child order them as you discuss the repeated order in which the year passes, or give him some blank templates with some pictures/stickers to sort into the correct seasons.
Familiarize child with numbers 1-10, writing, copying over dots, recognition.
Write numbers in an exercise book in dots and have child copy over them. Build up numbers gradually. One to ten will do over time.
Draw a picture of one object e.g. 1 apple and have child copy number and colour object.
Over time build up to 10.
Any good 4+ number book can be used where there is plenty of practice. Progress to writing the number without the dots.
Practise counting to 10.
Practise matching a number to a picture e.g. counting 7 beach balls and matching the number 7 to them.
Begin maths scheme, Scottish Primary Maths Group Infant Mathematics first stage workbooks (publisher Heinemann Educational).
Move on to numbers 10 to 20.
Begin early addition and subtraction. Write sum for child, leaving space for answer. Use abacus.
The scheme should also cover longer and shorter, heavier and lighter, shapes and early money etc. Use the workbooks to teach these and have children find objects so that they can use the words. Baking with child is a good way of teaching heavier and lighter, pretend shop can teach money.
Learn numbers up to 50 and be able to do basic addition and subtraction.
Use flashcards and number games to learn up to 50.
Look at the calendar every day to improve understanding f time and date.
Use work books to introduce addition and subtraction, moving on to Maths-U-See programme when ready.
Use everyday life to familiarise with numbers and money. Don’t view Maths as an exclusive subject that is isolated from other things.
Increase confidence in sums between 1-20, counting odd and even numbers, counting in their head, calendar use, days, week, months and seasons. Measure up to 20cm, continue shapes and comparisons.
Number work – look at puzzle and play number games, number snap, shapes, Cuisinaire rods or other Maths manipulatives.