11 Hot Math Education Research Studies to Boost Your Child’s Math Skills

Have you ever wondered what makes some people into natural mathematicians while others seem to struggle with grasping even basic concepts?  Do you wonder whether there are things you should be doing to help your children reach their potential in math?  Here’s my rundown of recent math education research into how we learn, and how best to develop your child’s math skills.

11-hot-research-studies-to-boost-your-childs-math-skills

 

Babies’ spatial reasoning predicts later math skills.

Stella Lourenco, a psychologist from Emory University conducted a study showing that babies with a stronger interest in a video stream of mirrored images went on to have greater mathematical skill at age four than those with less interest.

This may be why some people seem to have a natural aptitude for math, while others find it difficult.  The good news is that spatial reasoning can improve with training.  Lourenco suggests that an increased focus on this area in early math education could be helpful.

Action Point:  Provide opportunities to develop spatial skills.  Traditional shape sorters, puzzles, and stacking toys are ideal for this.  Also, try some of my Short and Sweet Preschool Math Activities.

Math difficulties may reflect problems in a crucial learning system in the brain.

Procedural memory governs our mastery of non-conscious skills, things like driving.  In this research, Tanya M. Evans PhD shows that procedural memory is also important in developing math ability.  She suggests that problems with underlying brain structure could be at the root of math difficulties.

Action Point:  Storytelling can be a great way to support the development of procedural memory.  The structure helps children to remember what comes next, setting them in good stead for math concepts later on.

Parents’ math skills ‘rub off’ on their children.

A recent University of Pittsburgh study shows that we transfer our math skills to our children.  Math education researchers found that a child’s performance in standardised tests could be predicted by looking at a parent’s performance in similar examinations.  

Action Point: Your understanding is key to developing your child’s understanding.  If you’re not confident in your own abilities, try Khan Academy or a similar programme to boost your performance in the basics.

Math and me:  Children who identify with math get higher scores.

Self-talk influences our performance throughout life.  Math is no different.  Dario Cvencek’s study shows that performance in math tests links to stereotypes. This in turn determines how children think of themselves as math learners.  For example, girls who subscribe to the theory that ‘math is for boys’ will tend to have weaker mathematical ability.  

Researchers measured explicit and subconscious beliefs in children through a range of tests. They then monitored their results in standardised tests at the end of the school year.  They found that implicit, subconscious beliefs affected math scores while explicit beliefs did not.  

Action Point:  Cvencek says, “If we can boost children’s math self-concepts early in development, this may also help boost their actual math achievement and interest in the discipline.”  

Watching the brain do math.

Using MRI technology, scientists at Carnegie Mellon University have been able to see what’s happening in the brain while students are solving maths problems.  They identified four distinct stages of the thought process: encoding, planning, solving and responding.  Using MRI, they analysed how long respondents spent on each stage of the process.

Action Point:  Professor John Anderson hopes that his research will eventually lead to improvements in classroom instruction.

brain math

The brain performs feats of math to make sense of the world.

The orbitofrontal cortex, just behind the eyes, carries out a constant stream of calculations and computations. All this without us being consciously aware of what’s happening.  This process shapes our behaviour and reactions to situations.  Using a safari park simulation, researchers from Princeton University demonstrated that people could accurately decide which area of the virtual park a specific group of animals had come from, based on their previous experience in the game.  

This ability would have been important to our ancestors’ daily survival, and it’s just as crucial for us today.  Even those without confidence in their math skills can take heart from the fact that our brains have an innate ability to conduct complex mathematical computations.

Finger tracing can lift student performance in math.

Getting young children to trace letters and numbers with their fingers is a standard part of early childhood education.  Recent research by Dr Paul Ginns suggests that this benefit extends to other areas as well, specifically, solving math problems.  

A survey of children aged 9-16 in Sydney showed that using the index finger to trace over important elements of algebra and geometry problems helped to improve their skill in solving those problems.

Action Point:  If you have young children, you probably already encourage them to trace letters and numbers.  Try to find ways to maintain that habit as they get older.  One suggestion is to let them see you modelling the behaviour as you try to figure out measurements for DIY or craft projects.

Improving math in sixth graders.

Marije Fagginger Auer’s research shows that “children can benefit from writing down their calculations, especially the more vulnerable group with lower ability”.  Current trends lean towards a heavy focus on mental strategies that don’t require children to ‘show their workings’.  This research found that a written process of working out the solution resulted in a higher proportion of correct answers, although this took more time.  

Action Point: The results of this math education research will be used to improve teacher training programmes.  Meanwhile, it’s easy to encourage children to write down their process for answering questions. This will work especially well in areas they find more challenging.

Math study shows our brains are far more adaptable than we know.

This fascinating research shows that blind people have the same innate numerical reasoning abilities as sighted people.  It was previously thought that the basic number sense present in humans and animals was related purely to sight.  This study found that, in blind people, the visual cortex plays an important role in numerical reasoning.

Co-author of the study, Marina Bedny says that the findings suggest that the brain as a whole is far more adaptable than previously believed.  “If we can make the visual cortex do math, in principle, we can make any part of the brain do anything.”

Simple numbers game seems to make kids better at math.

Games are a great way to boost math learning, we know that already.  It’s also been known for a while that a highly developed sense of number in infancy can predict later math success.  Johns Hopkins University researchers have taken this a step further with a study that suggests that games can bolster an innate sense of mathematical awareness.  

Children were given a game to play on a tablet, where they had to decide whether there were more blue or yellow spots on the screen at one time.  This had to be done quickly, without counting.  Testing after the dots game found that those children who played the ‘proper’ version of the game (with questions progressing from easiest to hardest) performed much better.

Action Point: This study shows that even a small investment of time can pay dividends.  It is well worth adding a few number games and activities to your days.

10 Online gaming can boost school scores.

Research from RMIT University, Melbourne, shows that playing video games can sharpen teenagers’ math skills, while Facebook and other social networking sites can dull them.  Associate Professor Alberto Posso said, “Students who play online games almost every day score 15 points above the average in maths and 17 points above the average in science.”  

Action Point: One recommendation from this study is that teachers should try to incorporate popular video games into their classes, providing that they’re not violent games.  

11 Tutoring relieves math anxiety, changes fear circuits in children.

This research has found that one-to-one tutoring can not only improve math ability but also treat math anxiety itself.  Using fMRI scans on children with high math anxiety, researchers showed that, after an eight-week tutoring programme, the brain’s fear circuits and amygdala were no longer activated by exposure to maths.

Action Point:  If your child suffers from anxiety around math work, and you’ve been wondering whether a private tutor might help, maybe this is the confirmation you need.

It’s interesting to read math education research, especially when it backs up what you already know.  You’ll find plenty of math resources here at Maths Insider to help you encourage your children as they grow their math abilities.  I especially love reading research into how very young children learn. It’s fascinating to understand the science behind the things that most of us do instinctively.  

Have You Seen These 15 Awesome Math Toys and Games?

have-you-seen-these-15-awesome-math-based-toys-and-games

Are you keen to help your children cement the math skills they’re learning, but finding them less than willing to spend their free time practising times tables or number bonds?  Hopefully, you’ve had a chance to look around here at Maths Insider to see some of my suggestions for ways to make math practice more fun.  Here’s a list of math toys and games with a definite emphasis on fun and a whole lot of math learning thrown in for good measure.

Number skills builders for preschoolers

Smart Snacks Number Pops – a fun way to encourage number recognition and fine motor skills at the same time.  Match the numbers to the dots and slide the coloured shell over the corresponding lolly.

Contains 10 ice cream pops.  Recommended for age 2+.

 

2 Melissa & Doug’s Stack & Count Parking Garage is a sturdy, colourful toy that will appeal to car-crazy toddlers, and teach them their numbers while they play.  Your kids will love dropping the wooden cars into the slot and seeing them fit neatly on top of the car beneath.

Recommended for age 2+.

Cool math for young kids

3 In this Math Explosion Game, the math side of things takes a very definite second-place to the excitement of exploding a volcano!  The game uses customised math facts making it suitable for a range of ages to play together.  Math practice and volcanic eruptions – what’s not to like?

2-4 players.  Recommended for age 5+.

The Magnetic Apple Fractions toy helps link important math concepts with everyday experiences.  Colour-coded plastic pieces are held together by magnets to create a fun toy that helps develop awareness of fractions.  Comes with an activity guide to help you get the most out of it.

Recommended for age 5+.

Sequence for Kids looks just like a normal board game, it doesn’t scream ‘I’m an educational toy’, making it ideal for those of us with more cynical children.  A strategy-building game that can be played by non-readers but which is engaging enough for adults as well.  Throw in a side order of unicorns and dragons, and you’re sure to find this one a crowd-pleaser.

2-4 players.  Recommended for ages 3-6.

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Engaging math games for older kids

Do you fancy being a Super Math Spy?  Use your super-fast mental math skills to carry out secret missions.  Complete with spy goggles and finger-print cards, this is a fun game that’s never the same.  A great way to encourage the kind of speed and automatic recall of facts that we all know is so important for later math success.

2-4 players.  Recommended for age 7+.

Make-a-Monster Math Test Prep Games.  Spin the spinner, answer math questions, and race to build your own funny monster.  Specifically designed to target skills needed for standardised state and national tests.  This link is to the Grade 3 set, but it’s available for Grades 3-5.

2-4 players.  Recommended for age 8+.

8 The best games are easy to learn but challenging to play.  Flip 4 fits right into this category.  A fun way to practice basic math skills and develop strategic thinking at the same time.

2-4 players.  Recommended for age 8-12.

9 Build space rockets and explore the solar system in Xtronaut: The Game of Solar System Exploration.  This game offers an awesome introduction to rocket science and space exploration while developing strategic thinking and planning skills.  Developed by the leader of the NASA OSIRIS-REx mission, it contains a wealth of real-world learning.

2-4 players.  Recommended for age 7+.

10 An irresistible curiosity that is bound to attract young and old alike.  The Clever Catch Multiplication Ball is a large inflatable ball covered in math problems.  Perfect for either organised game-play or informal exploration.

Recommended for Grades 3-7.

11 Think Fun’s Gravity Maze has 60 challenges across four play levels, so it will keep your kids (and you) puzzling for a good long time.  Use your logic and spatial reasoning skills to figure out how to create a path that will take the marble to the target tower.  A simple concept with endless variations

Single-player.  Recommended for ages 8-15 years.

12 The Ozbot Bit is a tiny (just over 1”) robot that you programme yourself.  Start with basic colour-coded commands, and progress to OzoBlockly, which allows you to fully programme your robot.  Coding is the latest buzz in STEM education, and this is a fun way to back up what your kids are learning at school.

Recommended for age 8+.

13 The Laser Maze Logic Game, also from Think Fun, is another game designed to develop sequential reasoning and hone those planning skills.  Arrange the mirrored tokens to reflect the laser beam onto the targets in 60 different challenges at a range of levels.

Single-player.  Recommended for ages 8-15 years.

14 Do your kids like to play to an audience?  Are they budding performers and entertainers?  If so, the 4M Math Magic Puzzles and Games set could be the perfect addition to your rainy-day cupboard.  They’ll learn to perform 15 math tricks and amazing speed calculations to wow friends and family.

Recommended for age 8+.

Fabulous geometry fun for the whole family

15 K’NEX is a classic toy that works on many levels.  This Elementary Math and Geometry Building Set tallies up with national standards and common core requirements.  Use the teacher’s guide and building instructions, or simply play and experiment – they’ll be learning without even realising it.

Set suitable for 3-4 children to use together.  Recommended for ages 2-16.

If you’ve liked these math toys and games ideas, click on over to my list of Brain-Building Math Board Games for Curious Kids for even more inspiration.

Sumaze Math App – Perfect for all Ages

Sumaze! is a cool problem-solving app that helps kids and adults build an intuitive approach to math. I’ve been playing it for for past week and it really is kind of addictive!

sumaze app

What I also love about it is that it’s low stakes – no timers and no negative audio sounds when you get the puzzle wrong, so it’s perfect for nervous young mathematicians!

Sumaze’s puzzles involve arithmetic, inequalities, the modulus function, indices, logarithms and primes and players don’t need ANY previous knowledge of these topics in order to play. This app was created by the UK organization Mathematics in Education and Industry (MEI) and the Sigma network who provide  support for excellence in mathematics and statistics.

If you and your family loved the Dragonbox suite of apps – you’ll love this too!

Watch the video below to see some of the Sumaze gameplay:

Sumaze! 2 is now also available. It includes puzzles which involve fractions, decimals, percentages, primes and digits.

8 Things to Love About Tabtor Math

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By far the most popular post on Maths insider is my post,  8 Things to Hate About Kumon! As a former Kumon instructor who now works as an instructor with Tabtor (a play on the words Tablet and Tutor!) I’m writing this post to give a unique perspective as someone who has worked for both companies.

At Tabtor I look after many, many ex-Kumon students including a family with 4 kids who switched from Kumon so that their children could explore the wider curriculum that Tabtor offers. So whether your kids are currently doing Kumon, another math program or you’re just starting to look into math programs to support your child’s math, let me share with you the 8 things to love about Tabtor.

1. Tabtor is great value

Tabtor pricing compares brilliantly to Kumon, Mathnasium and personal tutors. Check out the 2 videos below to see Tabtor’s subscription options and what you get for each option.

 

How much are our Tabtor families paying to have their children work on our world class curriculum guided by a qualified instructor?

(These are the subscription prices up to and including Grade 5)

More details at http://www.tabtor.com/pricing.php

Posted by Tabtor Math on Tuesday, August 30, 2016

 

 

This video shows how much our Tabtor families with kids aged from Grade 6 to Grade 8 are paying to subscribe to our award winning program with instructor support.

More details at http://www.tabtor.com/pricing.php

Posted by Tabtor Math on Wednesday, August 31, 2016

 

And don’t forget there’s also the cost of your time as the parent who has to take your child to the tutor/learning center each week.

2. Tabtor Instructors are qualified teachers

Tabtor actually uses qualified educators. I’m a Cambridge University educated qualified high school math teacher and many Tabtor instructor have spent many years as teachers. Kumon prioritises business experience over teaching experience when it comes to choosing franchisees to run their centers. Tabtor focuses on math teaching experience and ability.

3. Tabtor actually teaches your child

The Tabtor program contains built-in instruction videos for each topic – not just a few written examples. Step by step solutions are also shared when students get questions wrong. On the Study Coach plan, students have regular one to one tutoring sessions so that their tutor can review questions they got wrong with them and introduce any tricky concepts in the upcoming worksheets.

4. Tabtor offers a broad and varied curriculum

Tabtor’s world-class curriculum is based on Singapore Math and other world-class curricula. It is then customized for each country according to the state/provincial standards. As a result it contains a confidence building mix of arithmetic, word problems and logic problems to build important skills for future mathematicians

5. Tabtor takes personalization seriously

Tabtor is a US based company with instructors around the world but our work is overseen by senior staff who we meet with regularly online and are available to help instructors, parents and students alike. Also, Academic Advisors take care to match new Tabtor families with instructors based on their specific needs. In the rare cases where parents want to change instructors, they can do so quickly and easily.

6. Problem solving is at the core of the Tabtor program

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Most students join Tabtor with weak problem solving skills, even if they are strong at math in general. Problem solving is so important when it comes to math. Computers are able to process numbers far more quickly and more accurately than humans can, and those who have strong problem solving skills will be the ones in demand in the workplace. Tabtor puts problem solving at the core of it’s curriculum, including basic problem solving even in it’s Kindergarten worksheets.

7. Tabtor supports and extends kids school math

Tabtor worksheets use the math methods and techniques which have been proven to lead to a deeper understanding of math. With 1000’s of worksheets available, Instructors able able to build a specially tailored study plan to support and extend the student’s school math learning.

8. Tabtor builds mathematicians not just arithmeticians

If you put a Kumon student head to head with a Tabtor student and give them 100 arithmetic questions – the Kumon student will win (the Tabtor student will still be ahead of the rest of the class though).

However – if you give a Kumon student a series of logic or problem solving questions – the Tabtor student will come out top.

One of my Tabtor students was lamenting that in the weekly timed times tables tests at school he always finishes in 3rd place, slightly behind the Kumon kids. I offered to add in some concentrated times tables worksheets into his worksheet queue, even though we had moved beyond that stage in the curriculum, but he said, “No thank you Caroline. My teacher actually said that everyone in the class needs a lot of practice with word problems except me – so I don’t mind continuing with the work you’ve given me!”

Have you tried Kumon and/or Tabtor? Tell me in the comments below!

Click below for a 10% discount for 3 months:

Read more about  Kumon and Tabtor:

8 Things to Hate about Kumon – A Review

About Kumon The Good, The Bad and The Ugly

Is Tabtor a Real Alternative to Kumon?

12 Brain Building Math Board Games for Curious Kids

12 Brain Building Math Board Games for Curious Kids1

With summer coming up, I’m on the lookout for a new game or two to liven up quiet afternoons.  It’s an added bonus if I can sneak a little math practice in without anyone noticing what I’m up to.  Here are my top twelve picks for fun games with math skills at the core.  Take a look at this previous post on math board games for even more inspiration.

1. Smash-Up Game

Aliens, Ninjas, Pirates, Dinosaurs and more battle to smash more bases than the opposing team.  Eight different factions and dozens of combinations to try.  ‘It’s really fast setup, it’s really fast play … It’s easy to pick up the rules.’  

2-4 players, recommended for age 13+.

2. Melissa & Doug Shut-The-Box

A deceptively simple game, this is a favourite for all ages in our house.  An easy way to practice number bonds for younger children, with plenty of strategy to keep everyone else interested.  ‘This a great coffee table game for adults, as well as beginning adders!’  

2-4 players, recommended for age 6+.

3. Educational Insights Shelby’s Snack Shack Game

A counting game that will appeal to pre-schoolers and slightly older children alike.  Simple number recognition, and beginning addition and subtraction skills are used to help Shelby find the bones she’s buried at the beach.  ‘Parents (or relatives or friends) of pre-schoolers: Look no further, this is a perfect gift!’ 

2-4 players, recommended for ages 4-10.

4. Prime Climb 

A blend of strategy and sheer luck makes this an appealing game regardless of your mathematical ability.  You’ll practice addition, subtraction, multiplication, and division using the colour-coded board to scaffold the learning.   ‘Engaging and challenging enough that no one was bored but easy enough to understand that no one was frustrated.’  

2-4 players, recommended for age 10+.

12 Brain Building Math Board Games for Curious Kids2

5. Clumsy Thief 

A fast-paced card game to practice addition skills.  A winning mixture of luck and tactics make this a fun and engaging game.  ‘As a homeschool mom, I love anything that has my kids learning but makes it so much fun, they don’t even realize that they ARE learning!’  

2-6 players, recommended for age 8+.

6. Brain Quest Smart Game

Different question levels mean that this game works well for mixed age groups.  Race to answer questions on Science, Math, Arts, Reading, and The World.  ‘One thing that is so great is you can start playing with your 1st grader and go all the way through 6th grade.’  

2-4 players, recommended for ages 6-12.

7. Task Cards: Word Problems Grade 3 Board Game

Contains 100 different task cards for word problem practice.  Write-on/Wipe-off cards are always appealing to children, and these are linked to Common Core Standards to help you target specific areas for improvement.  

Suitable for individual and group use, recommended for ages 7-8.

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8. Make 7

A simple game to encourage familiarity and speed at additon.  The aim is to get your number tiles to add up to seven in any direction.  ‘The strategy is very deep. Something like a chess game but much quicker.’  

2 players, recommended for age 7+.

9. Farkle 

Quick set-up, and super easy to learn.  Like all the best games, strategy and chance both play their part.  ‘Great game, tons of fun, easy to learn.’  

2+ players, recommended for age 8+.

10. Teacher Created Resources Jumpin’ Chips Multiplication

 Five different games in one.  Master multiplication facts to 12×12 in these checkers-type games.  ‘Students love this game. They ask to play all the time and even ask to borrow it to bring home.’  

1-4 players, recommended for ages 7-11.

11. City of Zombies Maths Board Game 

Roll the dice and try to stop the zombies in their tracks.  A flexible cooperative game that can be easily adapted to focus on different areas of math.  ‘What price would you be willing to pay for a bit of argument-free time, knowing that your kids are totally absorbed in a game that does not pit one child against another but makes them combine forces against a common enemy?’  

1-6 players, recommended for age 5+.  (Please note, this game only ships from the UK).

12. Times Square – A Fast & Fun Times Tables Maths Game 

Play this as a standalone game, or use it to expand the City of Zombies game above.  Easy and fast to learn, and provides hours of fun.  ‘The game comes fully differentiated with a range of different play modes, and tips to make it easier or harder, which can be swapped in and out at a moment’s notice.’

1-6 players, recommended for age 7+.   (Please note, this game only ships from the UK).

The Maths Insider Guide to the Best Parent - Tested Math Products

15 More Cool, Beautiful and Inspiring Math Quotes

Math Quote Inspiration

Are you looking for some cool and beautiful math inspiration? Check out the Math Quote GIF’s below that highlight the eternal beauty of math.

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For more math inspiration check out my post 13 Cool, Beautiful and Inspirational Math Quotes. Enjoy!

1

“Wherever there is number, there is beauty.” -Proclus

2

“The book of nature is written in the language of Mathematic” -Galileo

3.2

“Mathemathics is the queen of the science” – Carl Friedrich Gauss

4

“The advancement and perfection of Mathematics are intimately connected with the prosperity of the State” -Napoleon

5

“A Mathematician who is not also something of a poet will never be a complete mathematician” -Karl Weierstrass

6

“The mathematician does not study pure mathematics because it is useful; he studies it because he delights in it and he delights in it because it is beautiful” Georg Cantor

7

“Pure mathematics is, in its way, the poetry of logical ideas.” -Albert Einstein

8

“Do not worry too much about your difficulty in mathematics, I can assure you that mine are still greater.” -Albert Einstein

9

“How can it be that mathematics, a product of human thought independent of experience, is so admirably adapted to the objects of reality?” -Albert Einstein

 

12

“Beauty is the first test; there is no permanent place in the world for ugly mathematics.” -Godfrey Harold Hardy

13

“The study of mathematics is apt to commence in disappointment.” Alfred North Whitehead

14

“A Man is like a fraction whose numerator is what he is and whose denominator is what he thinks of himself. The larger the denominator, the smaller the fraction.” -Tolstoy

10

“All mathematicians share… a sense of amazement over the infinite depth and mysterious beauty and usefulness of mathematics.” -Martin Gardner

15

“in the fall of 1972, President Nixon announced that the rate increase of inflation was decreasing. This was the first time a president used the third derivative to advance his case for re-election.” -Hugo Rossi

16

“He who asks a question is a fool for five minutes; he who does not ask a question remains a fool forever.” -Confucius

 Which is your favorite of the above Math Quotes? Do you have any other inspirational quotes about math to share? Let me know!

How to Help Your Child with Math – Even If You’re Not a “Math” Person

Have you ever found yourself going round and round in circles when trying to help your child with math? Believe it or not – I’ve been there! Yes – I’m a math teacher – a lover of math

 

 

Hello, this is Caroline from www.mathsinsider.com and I’m going to talk today about a question that a Maths insider reader asked which was,” How can I help my child with their maths if I’m not a math person?”

I understand where you’re coming from

MATHS ROTATING DAYS FB POSTSSo to start off, I’d just like to say that I obviously…I really like maths, I love sciences, I like geography, history I like most of the subjects, but one of the subjects that I don’t feel completely confident in supporting my kids in is English or Language Arts. I kind of like reading sometimes, I don’t like fiction, most of what I read is nonfiction and the whole kind of grammar and constructing sentences is just not my kind of thing. I obviously like to write a bit, hopefully if you’ve looked on Maths Insider you’ll see that, but I can feel you when you say that you feel as you’re not a maths person, I feel as though I’m not like a languages kind of person, and to make things more interesting, I am actually home schooling my 9 year old, so I need to support his English learning, his writing and his grammar.

This is my advice based on my knowledge of maths and my experience as a home schooling mother who has to support her children’s English learning.

1. Research math education tips

No. 1 is to do lots of research, Maths Insider obviously, is a good place to start, I’ve got lots of articles about how to help your child with maths, but also look in other places, there are some good Facebook groups you can have a look at, or school support Facebook groups and also some home school groups. There’s lots of information in home school groups about how to help your child with maths. Often you can get drawn into a political discussions about, is Common Core good or is this method bad, but it’s best to just research, just have a look at the different kinds of ideas.

2. Pick suitable math resources

My 2nd tip is to pick resources that suit you and your child, because you’ve got your different strengths and weaknesses, your child has different strengths and weaknesses and preferences, so if your child has been at school all day, where they are likely to have done lots of writing, and they come home, don’t let them do lots and lots of worksheets. Maybe pick something that’s an app or a printable board game or just some oral questions. So try to tune any resources that you use, try to tune into what resources will work for you and your child.

3. Learn the math with your child

The last tip is to learn with your child, so for example if you need to help your child with addition of fractions with different denominators, then learn how to add fraction with different denominators with your child. So Google adding fractions with different denominators. Australia year 4 for example, if that is your country or Common Core grade 4 or UK year 4 or year 5 and have a look to see what videos are available, if there are images available, if some examples are available and sit with your child and show them, “Look I’m not really sure about this, but let’s learn this together,” and that is actually going to help your child feel better, because it’s not okay sort of, you know everything and they know nothing and you’re going to put the information their heads, it’s, “So okay, there is a problem here let’s figure this out together.”

So if I go back to the beginning:

No. 1 is to research, look at Maths Insider, look on Facebook groups (the Maths Insider Community FB Group would be a great place to start!) and another good tip for researching, I forget to say this earlier on, is actually go to the book store, get a workbook and maybe have a look at the book for younger than your child’s grade level for your child’s grade level and have a look in the contents page because then you’d likely find a list of the topics. So flip through the books and you’ll be able to see, “Oh yes, my child does know this, this, this and this, but maybe this they don’t know.” So that’s a good way of trying to figure out exactly what kind of topics you are going to need to support your child in.

  • Number 1 is do your research
  • Number 2 is pick resources that suits you and your child’s learning style and teaching style
  • Number 3 is learn with your child

The Complete Guide to Faster Times Tables in Just 31 days.

Quotes - Alice in Wonderland

I’ll try if I know all the things I used to know. Let me see: four times five is twelve, and four times six is thirteen, and four times seven is–oh dear!”-  Alice’s Adventures in Wonderland

 

If, like Alice, your child is struggling with remembering their times tables, you’re not alone!

Ask a random selection of kids some of the trickier times tables and you’re going to get quite a few “Ums” or “It’s….well…it’s…….”

The thing is – it’s not necessarily your kids fault that they’re not comfortable with the times tables facts. Perhaps:

  1. They weren’t given time to thoroughly learn them
  2. They haven’t had time to practise them
  3. They don’t see the point of being fast at them

 

In this article I’m going to share with you:

  • Why it’s important at all for your child to learn the times tables
  • The best age to start learning the times tables
  • What your child’s needs to know before tackling this important task
  • The DIY system that parents around the world are using to guide their children in the times tables success
  • The resources you need and where to get them.

Are you ready to get started?

Great! Let’s begin!

Why is learning the times tables so important anyway?

So, why is learning the times tables important? Why can’t your child just get by? Well, High School math is filled with questions that require the use of times tables. Algebra is a lot easier if your child isn’t constantly reaching for their calculator.

Also, when your children grows up they’ll be:

Managing their finances

Splitting checks at the restaurant;

Working on a recipe conversion;

Trying to figure out if that price really is a good deal in the sale.

Using the times tables

All these require a good level of comfort with the multiplication facts.

In a BBC survey only 40% of the adults surveyed could give the correct answer to 8 x 9 but among the over-55’s in the survey, the number of correct answer rose to more than 60% so numeracy skills are definitely declining.

In a survey of California, Algebra 1 teachers, they reported that 30% of their students do not know their times tables.

So actually if your child can learn their times tables it’ll not only help them be more confident with math, it’ll put them ahead of the general population!

 

So what age should the children start to learn the times tables?

In this age of competitive parenting where we race to toilet train our kids soon after birth, this is a valid question.

Well, there are some five year olds that know their times tables, maybe even you were this young when you learned yours, but six or seven years old is a good time to start learning the times tables, even if it’s starting with skip counting by 2’s, 5’s and 10’s.

However, even teens who are still shaky on their times tables still have time to straighten out those multiplication facts. It’s certainly not too late.

 

The one thing your child really should be good at  BEFORE starting their times tables

Whatever age your child is, there’s still one thing they should know before starting the times tables:

They need to be confident at addition and subtraction;

and if they’re not, then this needs to be sorted first.

Fluent addition and subtraction skills will make the whole learning-the-times-tables process much easier, since not only are times tables just repeated addition, but some times tables shortcuts depend on addition and subtraction.

Click the image for a color or black and white printable Times Tables Cheat Sheet

 

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If you ignore this piece of advice then the whole learning in the times tables process is not necessarily doomed to failure, but it’s just going to be a more difficult. So if at all possible – sort  out the addition and subtraction first.

 

So how long will it takes for your child to learn their times tables?

Well, if they are working on it daily – only about 10 minutes a day –  then it’s only going to take them a month or so.

Start selling that to your child, “Hey – you could learn the times tables in a month if we did 10 minutes practise a day”

Can you find 10 minutes a day?

How to get to started?

Well, the first thing, the really important thing, is to plan in advance what time of day your child will be working on their times tables. Choose a time when both you and your child are free. You might not be doing anything more reminding your child to practice their times tables, but still it’s important to set aside this “reminder” time.

A great time to get on with this type of practice is first thing in the morning after breakfast, before school. If you walk or drive your child to school, this is another good time to review.

After school as a warm up to school homework also works well, but whichever time you pick, pick that time and let that be the “times tables time”.

So, what is it you actually need to do? What system do you need to use?

Well , let me tell you what I usually do with my students. I start at the beginning. I start with the two tables.

Now maybe you’ve got an older learner, so you might be tempted to start with the six times tables because they are fine on the 2’s 3’s, 4’s and 5 times tables, but my advice is just start with the two times tables.

Let them whizz through the easy tables, and then they can spend more time concentrating on the higher tables with their renewed confidence.

If you really want to rush the process, you can start AT THE LAST TIMES TABLES THAT THEY KNOW WELL.

But my advice is just to start at the beginning.

Let’s break down the 31 day times tables system

Now it would be great if your kid can do a 100 times tables questions each day – that is  definitely worth aiming for. If they can do 100 questions in just five minutes then brilliant! They are fluent and fast in their times tables and they can move on. If they are doing 100, two times tables in five minutes then great, they should move on to the three times tables.

With the multiplication facts, we are aiming for them to actually answer each question in about three seconds, so if you’re using audio, or you are reading out questions to them use the rhythm of three seconds per question.

If it’s taking them 10 minutes for 100 questions, that’s still fine. But you need to just check – are they taking 10 minutes because they’re staring out of the window or fiddling with their pencils, or are they actually taking 10 minutes to concentrate on each of the questions and answering the questions?

If they’re hesitating on each question or using their fingers, it’s worth repeating these early tables to get them to lose the habits that could be hijacking their chances of success.

I would advise that they probably need about  3 to 4 days for each of the times tables. So if they take them 10 minutes the first time, let them repeat that particular times tables, for a 2nd, 3rd or maybe even a 4th day to see if you can get their timing to closer to five minutes.

If after 4 days on that set of times tables facts, they’re still taking 10 minutes that’s fine – let them move on.

If they’re taking 15 minutes or more, then step back to the previous times table (or to the last times table that they were fluent in) to help them build up their speed, then go back up to the problematic set.

Now while most people think the process goes like this:

3

Which can definitely work:

I prefer to run through the times tables so it plays out like this:

4

But my kid HATES times tables worksheets

I hear you on this! My 2 older kids ploughed their way through times tables worksheets and learnt them that way with no fun and games, but my younger 2 are worksheet-a-phobes!  

Everyone learns in different ways. I’m very much a be a visual learner and maybe your child is a hands on learner and your child’s times tables efforts will get better results if you can tailor their work to their learning style.

Worksheets are a great way to learn the times tables if your child takes to them, but after doing worksheets all day at school, the last thing your child may want to do is more worksheets!

There are some children who do find worksheets terribly grown up, and you don’t necessarily need to avoid worksheets altogether.

In my 31 Days to Faster Times Tables program, you’ll find printable games, audios, activity suggestions AS WELL AS worksheets to suit different learning styles.

If your child responds well to visuals, you can get them to read out the questions themselves and then shout the answers and then YOU write down the answers (or just keep a running check on whether they’re getting the answers correct).

Or you can read the questions to your child and and she writes down the answer.

You can even print out copies of the worksheets and then have a race against your child – if they like a bit of competition!  

For auditory learners you can use audio instead of worksheets. There are audio CD’s that you can buy or if you look on YouTube you’ll find plenty of times tables raps, rhymes and songs.

Your kids could even make their own times tables audio that they can listen to!  

Want some resource ideas? Grab my 31 Ways to Practise the Times Tables FREE PDF eBook

Click here to grab the FREE ebook

Games, games, games

Remember I told you that my youngest kids are worksheet-a-phobes? Well the one thing that’s really helped them with their times tables are times tables games.

My kids love playing the printable games that I printed out and laminated. Some needed dice and counters but they seemed to love the ones that used those washable whiteboard pens!

You could even make up your own games with just a pair of dice, a pack of playing cards, or a random number generator (Google will be able to help you out there!).  

You can have your child play an online multiplication game or download a times tables app and give your child a smartphone or tablet to play on. Sentencing your child to 10 minutes a day on a smartphone won’t be such a bad thing on their eyes! 

There’s plenty more ideas in the FREE 31 Ways to Practice the Times Tables eBook

So where can you find these resources?

Well, bookstores are a good starting place. They’ll have plenty of workbooks, CD’s and also some pre-packaged games or flashcards as well.  

A YouTube search will give for times tables resources will yield a huge amount of results. When I looked up “times tables raps” there were over 300 YouTube videos for times tables raps and time tables songs, as well as instruction videos showing how the times tables work.

Google is also a great resources, whether for buying times tables products or looking for free worksheets, you’ll get  plenty of choices, but the difficulty is how to choose between all these resources.

Of course you can also grab my 31 Days to Faster Times Tables program

Choosing the right resources

Whether you choose ready-made resources or you are writing your own worksheets, make sure you start with the easy questions first. So don’t just go straight into 8 x 9

Start with 2 x 2, 2 x 3, 2 x 4 etc. then make sure the questions increase in difficulty gradually.

Make sure the questions have some built in review, so for example if  they learned the five times tables, once they finish practising those, then make sure to include some questions on the 2, 3 and 4 times tables before moving on to the 6 times tables.

More importantly, choose a resource that fits with your child’s learning style.

If your child is a hands-on learner, then you probably want to spend more time playing games. Worksheets are fine with these types of learners, but supplementing these by playing some hands-on games will help to fix the multiplication facts.

If you want a way to get started immediately. I’ve developed the 31 Days to Faster Times Tables program which contains all the worksheets (including built -in review), audio, printable games and activity ideas to guide your child to faster, more confident times tables in one month.

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You can find out more about the faster times tables program here.

In the meantime let’s go over the main steps:

  1. Start once your child has great addition and subtraction recall
  2. Begin easy and master each times table before moving on
  3. Build in review
  4. Use resources suited to your child’s learning style

Now whether you’ve choose to use the DIY system that I’ve just laid out for you or whether you choose to go ahead and purchase the done-for-you 31 Days to Faster Times Tables program at www.fastertimestables.com it  is really, REALLY important that you start to develop a plan, tomorrow or in the next couple of days, to really tackle those times tables with your child.

Once you get started, it will only takes 10 minutes a day to help your child to faster more confident with times tables!

Click here to grab the FREE ebook

12 Cool and Quirky Math Teacher Gifts

12 Cool and Quirky Math Teacher Gifts

The right math teacher can make the world of difference to your child’s learning experience, and to their attitude towards math and learning in general.  If there’s a special teacher, tutor, or instructor in your child’s life, then why not show your appreciation with one of these cool, quirky gifts.  You can also check out our list of 13 Marvelous Math Teacher Gifts for more inspiration.  Whether you’re looking for something funny, practical, or just something a little unusual for a teacher who’s helping your child to reach his potential, you’re sure to find a gift that’s just right.

  1. Statistics Blackboard Courier Bag – $141.00

Math teachers can make a statement about their love of the subject with this large, sturdy, messenger bag.  Featuring a blackboard design with statistical formulas ‘chalked’ onto it, this is an unusual way to carry a laptop, or to take that pile of marking home.  A “very sturdy” bag with a “secure, comfortable, and snug fit” this one has received great customer reviews.  You can find an array of other bags for math teachers here. Also available in the UK and Australia.

  1. Dividing By Zero Is Not A Game Coffee Mug – $17.80

School teachers know that coffee cups are always in high demand.  Save your math teacher from the frustration of stolen mug-theft, by buying this distinctive mug that proclaims, ‘It’s all fun and games until someone divides by zero.’  Mugs for math teachers come in all kinds of designs, from the beautifully arty to the groan-worthily funny.  A custom coffee mug will put a smile on a teacher’s face. Also available in the UK and Australia.

  1. I teach Algebra, What’s Your Superpower – cashmere bath mat – $27.05

Children usually think that their teachers live and breathe all things educational.  If you know a math teacher who fits this description, then what better gift than this geeky bath mat to dry their toes after a morning shower?  Bonus points from your tutor if you can explain the formula!  One reviewer described this as “the softest bathmat I’ve ever set my feet upon”, which seems like a glowing recommendation to me.  If that one’s a little too obvious for your tastes, then take a look here for bath mats featuring antique multiplication tables, numbers, and more. Also available in the UK and Australia.

  1. Math Teacher Owl Flameless Candle – $31.60

A gift or the teacher who has kindled the math flame in your child’s life.  Whether they’ve supported your family through exams, or just helped to boost flagging confidence, they’re sure to love this vinyl-wrapped LED candle.  A subtle show of appreciation that would be well suited for either home or classroom use.  Take a look at other candles that would make good teacher gifts. Also available in the UK and Australia.

  1. Math Teacher Grillmaster Adult Apron – $21.55

Even when they’re off-duty, tutors can display their math love with pride, by wearing this apron.  ‘Math teacher by day.  Grillmaster by night.’  This “well-constructed” apron has “big and functional pockets.”  Tea towels, cake toppers and cutting boards are also available to brighten up the kitchen. Also available in the UK and Australia.

  1. Math Geek’s Vintage Multiplication Tables Porcelain Serving Platter – $72.51

Steampunk style, vintage French multiplication tables, printed onto a beautiful serving platter.  Beautiful design paired with a geeky edge that any math teacher is sure to love.  Click through to see other math-inspired large serving plates. Also available in the UK and Australia.

  1. Math Lessons Puzzle – $18.10

A jigsaw puzzle printed with a plethora of mathematical equations.  Vectors, volume calculations, and Pythagorean theory combine to make an unusual gift that’s sure to be a talking point.  From puzzles to poker, and from poker to ping-pong, these gifts will help your math teacher to enjoy his or her downtime. Also available in the UK and Australia.

  1. Cool Fun Calculator – Math Pi Number Digits iPhone 6/6s Wallet Case – $26.95

Some teacher gifts tend to be a bit pointless, after all, there are only so many cutesy photo frames one person can find a home for.  The practicality of this iPhone 6 case will be appreciated though.  A “cushiony case” with “a velvet like feel on the inside.”  Alternatively, you could go for a laptop sleeve or, a pi USB flash drive. Also available in the UK and Australia.

  1. Governed By Number Desk Organizer – $31.25

A subtle nod towards the number-loving tendencies of your maths teacher, this mahogany-finished wooden desk tidy will keep pens and pencils easy to hand.  “A fine addition to any desk.”  Lots of other fun organizer designs available. Also available in the UK and Australia.

  1. Inspire Math Geek T-Shirt – $22.15

The quirky wordplay on this “super comfortable” cotton t-shirt will either have people smiling knowingly, or wrinkling their brow in confusion.  Which category do you fall into?  For other options, check out the range of math teacher apparel available. Also available in the UK and Australia.

  1. At Pi Sign Scarf – $21.20

This soft and stylish jersey scarf would make a beautiful gift for a special teacher.  Falling nicely into the pretty-but-practical category, she’ll reach for it again and again.  “Even the print is soft and comfortable to the skin.”  This one features a prominent @pi hybrid design, but there are plenty of other scarves to choose from. Also available in the UK and Australia.

  1. Eat Sleep Math Card – $3.50

Add the final touch to your teacher gift with a thoughtful, handwritten note.  This card makes the ideal token of appreciation, either by itself or in combination with any of the other gifts.  Whatever your teacher’s personality and sense of humour are like, you’ll find a suitable card for them here.  Also available in the UK and Australia.

Rescue Your Teen’s Math with These 3 Steps

Boom! You’ve just come to the sudden realization that your teen is struggling with math! Whether they’re 13 or 17, the consequences of weak math skills are real. As a parent it’s natural to go into panic mode and blame yourself, then blame your teen, then blame yourself, but DON’T! Watch the video below to see the 3 steps you can take to save your teen’s math today. The transcript of the video is below:

Hello, I’m Caroline from Maths Insider and today I want to talk about teen math problems. So just last month I was speaking to a parent and she said, “How can my child, be 13 years old and he doesn’t know how to do long division!”

Podcast Thumbnails for Blog

There are three reasons why your child probably can’t do long division:

 1)Maybe he can, but just can’t when you are standing right over him growling, “what’s going on!” that he can’t do long division.

2) It could be that he can do long division but he’s just forgotten a step so he’s messing everything up, messing up a whole question.

And 3) maybe he just doesn’t know long division, maybe he was away from school that day, or maybe the teacher went through it really quickly that week when they were doing it a few months ago, or maybe he just really didn’t get it and he’s too shy to ask and it didn’t caught in the school report and the teacher didn’t tell you.

So what’s a parent to do when their teen has problems with math?

Well, don’t make a huge thing about it. The thing about teenagers is that they need you, but they don’t need you. And so the worst thing you can do is to make a huge thing out of it, and make into “Oh! You can’t do long division and your room is a mess and look at those clothes that you wear.” It’s so tempting as a parent, (I’ve got two teens of my own) to just unload everything in one go. So just don’t do that!

Come up with a plan to deal with that particular issue, the long division. But actually don’t make it into big huge deal. Make it seem as though it’s a plan that they’ve actually come up with and just be calm about it and say, “Okay you can’t do the long division, let’s figure out a way to tackle this.”

The next step is to actually figure out why can’t they do long division. What is it about long division that they cannot do? There are so many elements even in one simple long division question, so really in long division the student needs to know:

  • their times tables
  • subtraction facts,
  • how to do subtraction with borrowing or a method for two digits subtraction,
  • how to line up their numbers correctly whichever method they’re using.
  • be able to read their own writing so that the numbers appear clear, so that they are not making mistakes because they can’t read their own writing.
  • whichever algorithm they’ve been taught, “Do this and then do that, do this and then do that for do long division,

………..so exactly which steps of long division is causing them the problem?

If their times tables is not fluent and they are taking ages to figure out how many 8’s are their in 64 –  tackle that issue first – just deal with the times tables.

Fixing the math

Your teen probably thinks, “Oh my gosh, I do not want to deal with this. It doesn’t matter!” but actually say “Look! It is important,here’s a times tables app” or “Here’s a times tables list you can just keep with you, I’ll test you in the car tomorrow on  a particular times table.”

Make it really casual but deal with it because that’s really important! If they’re struggling with subtraction – make sure that they are clear on how to do it.

With my own teenagers, I often just find a video on YouTube and send it to them and say “Hey look! There’s a video on this topic which might be useful!” and then check to see if they’ve watch it, check to see if they understood it. Perhaps find one on subtraction with borrowing, and maybe a step-by-step video on how to do long division.

Let them feel as though it’s not something that you’re setting and teaching them how to do. Let them feel they are accessing the knowledge themselves.

Maths Insider Secrets

In the Maths Insider secret program, I go through and show you step by step how to figure out what are the gaps in your child’s knowledge and I show you the exact free websites that you can use to figure out what those gaps are and develop a plan to fill in those gaps.

Click here for more info on the Maths Insider Secret Program