Charlie works as a part-time assistant for Maths Club by Post. This is her story about how she has been inspired to sneakily drip-feed Maths into her son’s life:
I have a lively full on 5-year-old boy who has bundles of energy and just loves to play every minute of the day. Starting school when he had barely turned 4 was a shock to the system, he certainly was not ready to learn in a formal classroom setting. It became apparent early on that he was ‘behind’ substantially, failing to meet the expected national curriculum standard for his age. As from last week, he is now on the Special Educational Needs register.
He struggles to remember or recall any learning. It is pretty disheartening and frustrating for me as a parent and ex primary school teacher to see him struggling so much. After some input, he’d be able to count aloud to ten or read particular key words and I’d think, ‘Hooray, he’s got it!’ only to discover the next day that all such knowledge seemed to be completely wiped from his memory and we’d be back to square one.
I try to help by integrating maths into daily life situations. The other day, I had some skittles left over from ginger bread making which I thought my 3 children could use up, so I asked my son if he’d like to ‘share’ them out fairly. He immediately set about dividing them up into 3 groups then counted the skittles in each group. He is very conscientious and accurate at counting where sweets are concerned!
Below I have compiled a list of a few other maths related things we integrate into daily life. I am hoping that exposure to maths concepts and knowledge in a variety of fun engaging ways will help over a long period of time.
Every night my son insists on me or his dad hugging him, whilst counting to 100 and sing the Alphabet. We think this is a devious yet very clever way of making the bedtime routine last as long as possible to delay going to sleep! At times it can be tiresome, and we chant to 100 pretty fast! Other times are slower in which we deliberately get it wrong so that my son will interrupt and correct. We are now moving on to pausing every multiple of 10 for him to fill in. He will try it on and ask for another 100 count, so we just say, ‘one, two, miss a few, ninety-nine, one hundred!’ I will never forget the time I counted over one hundred… he looked so astonished when I explained that the numbers actually go on forever; a definite ‘mind blown’ moment!
We live a mile away from the school, we try to walk but frequently succumb to the car. On some occasions walking, my son can be annoyingly slow, (anxious about going to school) so to jolly him along, we play a few games.
A simple one is to walk for 10, skip for 10, jog for 10 etc or the Stop/Start traffic light game. Yes, I probably do look like a nutter. I’d rather that then suddenly discover him standing stationary 100 metres behind me. The game usually doesn’t last long, he tires of things very quickly so I’m always reinventing creative ways to get him to move! I’m not some kind of super mum at all – it’s out of sheer desperation to be honest because my son is a real challenge and doesn’t comply easily.
My older daughters love Fizz Buzz. A game where each person counts in turn, but if the number is a multiple of 3 say shout FIZZ, if the number is a multiple of 4 shout ‘BUZZ’ and if the number is a multiple of 3 and 4 shouts ‘FIZZ BUZZ’! This is obviously waaaay too hard for 5 yr old. But he likes to be involved so I whisper to him what to say and he’s happy.
On long car journeys we play Number plate Bingo. Caroline, who runs Maths Club by Post gave us some templates with shapes to look out for, also grids with calculations on. We make it easier for my 5 yr old by asking him to simply spot specific numbers (no calculating involved).
We’ve recently started Geocaching. Basically, it’s like a treasure hunt. It’s surprising what kind of maths goes on… learning directions like North, South, East, West and looking at the app to see how many metres away you are from the cache! If we start walking away from it the number of metres goes up, if we are getting closer the number goes down.
We play football and keep a record of goals scored.
We occasionally do Junior Park run – a 2km timed run. An email is sent afterwards to give all sorts of results and statistics. It’s really fun and not something we take seriously at all. Sometimes I see whether my son can read any of the numbers as he is quite interested. I think that’s the key; find something children are interested in, that’s meaningful. If I was to show him a sheet of paper with numbers on there would be zero interest. That’s why it’s good to learn from real life situations. We do this without even realising.
There are hundreds of learning apps out there.
Jigsaw puzzles really appeal to my son, shape and space is one of his strong points. So, if it’s a jigsaw puzzle about numbers or letters that is an added bonus.
I’ll be honest, I’m no baker. I find cooking with 3 children stressful. However, IF we happen to be baking in the half term for want of something better to do, getting 5 yr old to watch the scales for a specific number is a good way of getting a bit of maths in without realising.
If you feel like you need some inspiration to help your child with Maths at home – preferably without them noticing – ‘like’ Maths Club by Post on Facebook for regular tips and tricks.