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.  

8 Things to Love About Thinkster Math (formerly Tabtor)

MATHS INSIDERS blog

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 Thinkster Math (formerly Tabtor) I’m writing this post to give a unique perspective as someone who has worked for both companies.

At Thinkster Math 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 Thinkster Math 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 Thinkster Math.

1. Thinkster is great value

Thinkster Math pricing compares brilliantly to Kumon, Mathnasium and personal tutors. Prices start from $60 per month which includes one-on-one math coaching as well as unlimited worksheets.

More details here

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. Thinkster Math Instructors are qualified teachers

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

3. Thinkster Math actually teaches your child

The Thinkster Math 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. Students have regular one to one tutoring sessions so that their tutor can review questions they got wrong with them, introduce any tricky concepts in the upcoming worksheets or even help with school homework.

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4. Thinkster Math offers a broad and varied curriculum

Thinkster Math’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. Thinkster Math takes personalization seriously

Thinkster Math 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 Thinkster Math 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 Thinkster Math program

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Most students join Thinkster Math 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. Thinkster Math puts problem solving at the core of it’s curriculum, including basic problem solving even in it’s Kindergarten worksheets.

7. Thinkster Math supports and extends kids school math

Thinkster Math 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. Thinkster Math builds mathematicians not just arithmeticians

If you put a Kumon student head to head with a Thinkster Math student and give them 100 arithmetic questions – the Kumon student will win (the Thinkster Math 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 Thinkster Math student will come out top.

One of my Thinkster Math 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 Thinkster Math? Tell me in the comments below!

Click below for a 10% discount for 3 months:

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Read more about  Kumon and Thinkster Math:

8 Things to Hate about Kumon – A Review

About Kumon The Good, The Bad and The Ugly

Is Thinkster Math 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.

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

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

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

 

cheat1

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

Math Homework Without Confusion

How can I make sure I'm not confusing my child when they ask me to help with their math homework?

“The teacher didn’t do it that way!!”

“So which way did they do it?”

“I can’t remember!”

Find out how to rescue this frustrating situation and help your kids tackle their math homework without confusion with the 3 simple tips in the video below. The transcript of the video is also below. Click here to watch the video on You Tube complete with subtitles.

Hello, I’m Caroline from Maths Insider, www.mathsinsider.com and today I am going to answer a question from a Maths Insider reader who asked, “How can I make sure I’m not confusing my child when they ask me to help with their math homework?”

1. Find out what math they know

So I’ve got three tips, No.1, have a look at the homework and ask them to explain to you what they actually do understand, and if that draws a blank and they give you that look like, “I actually don’t understand anything, I don’t get it at all,” then try to ask them an easier example to see if they’ve got any understanding at all of the topic. For example if they come home with 247 divided by 23 and they don’t understand it, ask them, ”Okay so, how about if it were 24 divided by 3? Well how about if it were 243 divided by 3?” Try an easy example and see if they can actually explain to you how they would get the answer with an easier example. 

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2. Google the math

No. 2, the next tip, because sometimes even that tip doesn’t work, is to actually Google it and not just Google “long division” but actually put “long division year 4 Australian curriculum” or “long division year 5 UK curriculum” or” long division grade 4 curriculum” and you’re going to get some very good results hopefully. Now you’ll probably get some websites, but also look at the video results because you might get some good YouTube videos and click on images as well because especially the images result might bring in some really good results from Pinterest which might be just some visual short cuts of what method to use, so that’s another good tip.

3. Phone a friend

And the last tip No. 3, which is kind of a last resort, but it might work, is to ask somebody. So ask on Facebook, because people like to be seen to be good at maths, and so if you just put a quick call out on Facebook to say “Hey, my child’s come home with long division and yea I know how to do long division, but it looks as if they’re using a division type of method and I don’t know what method they’re using” and you’ll likely get somebody, some people, who will respond and will know what current method is being used in schools. You can also look on forums as well or Facebook groups, but even amongst your Facebook friends you’ll likely to have somebody who may actually want to help out and say ,”Well, they’re doing this,” or “This is the method my child used last year.” So it’s always worth asking.

  • So tip No. 1. Ask your child to explain to you what methods they’ve been taught and perhaps with an easier example than the actual example they’re stuck on. Also have a quick look at the homework and see if there’s a question they’ve managed to do and ask them to explain it to you.
  • No.2. Google the topic plus the curriculum 
  • Number 3. Ask perhaps on Facebook

Learn These Math Skills First!

Which math skills does my child need to learn first?

“How can he be 13 years old and not know long division? How did that happen?”

That was an actual quote from a distraught parent whose child had just done “not so well” on the Diagnostic Test that Thinkster Math (formerly Tabtor) gives to all new students. It’s often the case that students struggle with a topic because they’ve either not had the chance to practice easier concepts or missed learning an easier concept entirely. So for this student, it may be that his times tables recall is weak or he’s making mistakes in subtraction or he just hasn’t learnt how to set out his log division work.

Math, like reading needs to build up from strong foundations.

Find out which foundationnmath skills your child should learn first with this video. The transcript of the video is also below. Click here to watch the video on You Tube “complete with subtitles.

Hello, I’m Caroline from www.mathsinsider.com and today I am going to answer a question from a Maths Insider reader which is, “Which math skills, and how to know which math skills my child needs to learn first?”

A logical order of math skills

So I’ll just briefly go over the kind of math skills that kids need to know. So they basically need to know how to count, then add, then subtract and then multiply and then divide and then work with fractions and then with decimals and then how to use all the skills with algebra. So it sounds really simple, but the school curriculum kind of chops and changes so they make sure they do simple addition in one school year and then they do harder addition the next school year and then they do double digit addition the next school year and triple digit addition the next school year and then they might introduce the times table this school year while they are still doing double digit addition, but they introduce it as number sequences and then they’ll do the times tables.

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So it’s no wonder that parents get confused, because after they’ve done the times table they’re going to do short multiplication and then they’re going to do long multiplication and then another year they are going to repeat the short multiplication as an introduction to long multiplication and so parents can be left thinking “What are they doing?” They’ve been doing multiplication for ever and you know that is true.

How Kumon Does the Math

A program like Kumon, what they do, they do, they basically do addition, addition, addition, 1 digit, 2 digit, 3 digit, 4 digit, yes they add and then subtract, well  they do addition and subtraction together, a bit of addition  a bit of subtraction, a bit of addition a bit of subtraction and then only after addition and subtraction are perfect for like 4 digits, plus 4 digits, and 4 digits, take away 4 digits, do they do the multiplication tables and then once they know those then they do the division facts and then short multiplication, short division, long multiplication, long division and so that’s how come Kumon students are able to seemingly move forward very quickly whilst the school will be doing all these things in a broken up way because then they have also fit in shapes and measurements and time and angles and all the other things that the curriculum decides. 

A Math Skills Strategy

But how does this help you as a parent when your child comes home with for example a question on dividing fractions?  So when I first meet a new student and the parents say they’re stuck on dividing fractions, first of all I want to know do they know their times tables. Well actually I want to know can they add and also subtract but it’s kind of more polite to say, “Do you know your times tables?” especially when you’re talking to a child who maybe 12 or 13 years old and often times they are really hesitant, they don’t know them. It is not a case of being really fast, a fraction of a second, they must know the answer straight away, but they should be able to give you the answer within a few seconds and not panic. So in order to access that dividing by fractions, they are going to need to be able to work with the times tables relatively quickly and relatively comfortably, so it is a case of making sure all the foundation skills are built up. So if you do have your child coming to you with a question to do with fractions make sure they do know their times tables and also before that make sure they do know their addition and subtraction fact relatively easy and not having to count on their fingers and their toes and your fingers and your toes. So it is actually worth taking the time out to do that.

Don’t skip the basic math

Often times I have parents who starts working with me and I start working with their child and they said well, they need to know their times tables which is fine I can give them lots of time tables practice, but actually they do need to be able to do the column subtraction because later on when they are doing  long division they’re going need to be able to subtract easily and accurately and times tables aren’t  actually that difficult to learn, they just need a concentrated amount of time and they don’t even need to be quick, quick, quick as I said before.  It’s the case to get the 4 times table, double and double it again and figuring out. Give your child the tools if they can’t memorize them then give them the tools to be able to get answers so that when later on they’re doing the long division, they are not having to count on to figure out how many times does four goes into 28. Then also they’ve got the problem they can’t subtract accurately, so they are making mistakes when they have to do the subtraction bit of the long division. So it is very important to make sure your child has all their foundational skills and it’s not that they have to be super speedy, that’s great if they can be, but they just need to be comfortable. 

Encourage Your Child To Do Extra Math With These 3 Easy Steps

You’ve come to the realization that your child needs to do some extra math, whether because they’re struggling with the subject, they could do with some extra math practise or in order to get ahead, but you know your child will likely be resistant. Find out how to overcome your child’s objections and encourage your child to do extra math using these 3 steps. The transcript of the video is below. Click here to watch the video on You Tube complete with subtitles.

Hello, I’m Caroline from www.mathsinsider.com and today I’m answering a Maths Insider reader’s question, “How can I get my child to do extra maths?”

Plant the seed that extra math is a positive thing

No. 1 is to seed the idea, so start talking to them about other children who are doing extra maths, “So, you know your friend X, they’ve started doing Kumon” or, “I heard from Y that the Thinkster Math (formerly Tabtor) program is very good” or, “I found this blog Maths Insider and it’s got some really cool ideas of how to get better at maths for kids.” So start seeding the idea and start mentioning it so that it’s not a complete shock for your child.

Encourage Your Child To Do Extra Math With These 3 Steps

What math resource do THEY want to use?

No. 2 is when you decide that you are actually going to start your child doing extra maths, then get their feedback on what they want to do. So say, “Would you prefer to do some extra maths on the app?”,” Do you want me to print out some games?”,” Do you want to just do some worksheets?”,” Do you just want to use a maths text book?” Ask them what they prefer or perhaps videos. So ask for their feedback, ask for their input so that they feel this is something that’s not just happening to them, something that they have to do, but something that they have some element of choice in.

Fix a math time

No. 3 is to fix a time, just try to fix a regular time and again get your child’s input on it, when do they want to do it? In the car on the way to school? Do they want to do it in the morning or after breakfast or during breakfast? Do they want to do it straight away after school? Do they want to go to a tuition center? Do they want to do something just before they go to bed? So ask them what do they think would work in their schedule and also what kind of time frame, so say to them, “Well, okay if you don’t want to do 5 minutes every day then perhaps it’s better that we do a half an hour on a Saturday morning or an hour every couple of weeks” and ask them what they prefer, a little and often or just big chunks of time. Well little and often actually works better, but some children do work better with big chunks of time. So ask them what they prefer.

Encourage Your Child To Do Extra Math with These 3 Steps

So if I go back to number 1:

  • Number 1 is seed the ideas, so start talking about extra maths being something positive and it’s something that other children do.
  • Number 2 ask them how they want to do the extra maths, whether they want to use books or apps, videos or whatever resources.
  • Number 3 is to get your child to help you fix a regular time to do the extra maths.

 

 

8 Practical Ways to Conquer Your Child’s Math Anxiety

Is math anxiety really a thing?

Math anxiety, that is feelings of stress, fear and apprehension when it comes to doing math, is certainly real. In fact scientists have developed different ways to measure mathematical related anxiety including the MARS (Mathematics Anxiety Rating Scale) and the Fennema-Sherman Mathematics Attitudes Scales (FSMAS).

A child suffering from math anxiety is not necessarily “bad at math”, but the stress they feel in math class and the avoidance tactics they use to minimize the amount of math they need to do, mean that they often don’t get the much needed practise that leads to math fluency.

A research based approach to math anxiety

Fortunately, research has found that, when it comes to math anxiety, parents can offer a great deal of help and support to their children. The infographic below  gives 8 science-backed, practical ways to help parents conquer their child’s math anxiety.

 

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8 Practical Ways to Conquer Your Child’s Math Anxiety

1. Be involved

Student success in school has been shown to increase if their parents are positively involved in their education.

2. Encourage a growth mindset

Studies have shown that effort trumps ability when it comes to learning math, so set high expectations when encouraging your child.

3. Be positive about math

A parent’s perception of mathematics influences not only their child’s perception, but also their achievement in mathematics.

4. Overcome gender stereotypes

Foster math confidence regardless of the gender of your child by highlighting achievements made by both male and female scientists.

5. Learn the basics  

Rote learning is essential to mathematics performance as a many higher level concepts build the memorization and repetition of the basic math facts.

6. Allow mistakes  

Focus on the concepts rather than the right answer since making (and correcting) mistakes is an essential part of math learning.

 

7. Take baby steps 

Support new topics by slowly building from the topics your child already understands. Use gradual, repeated success to build math confidence in your child.

8. Make math relevant to real life

Highlight ways in which you and your family use math in everyday life and discuss how good math skills will open the doors to a larger choice of career options.

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Does Your Child Know Their Basic Math Facts? Read These 4 Essential Tips

Watch the video on You Tube here

Read the transcript below:

4 Tips to Help Your Child Learn Their Basic Math Facts

Hello, my name is Caroline Mukisa from the Maths Insider website and today I’m going to answer a question from a Maths Insider reader, “How can I get my child to learn the basic facts?”

So I’m going to first of all talk about how much effort is going to be needed to learn the basic facts and then I’m going to talk about the order in which to do the facts. Further, I’m going to talk about location, location, location, give you some good tips on where and when to do that kind of learning. And finally I’m going to give you a secret tip at the end.

Will learning the basic math facts take a lot of effort?

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So first of all, how much effort is it going to take? Well, when I was a Kumon instructor, when I ran a Kumon center in London, my students were doing a lot of basic facts learning. So on the typical Kumon worksheet, say for example addition and subtraction, each student would be doing about 200 to 300 questions every day on that particular fact whether it’s +1s or +2s or a mixture of +1s and 2s. So that’s why Kumon kids are generally really, really fast in their basic arithmetic.
Now, I don’t do that with my own kids now and as a Thinkster Math (formerly Tabtor) instructor, each Thinkster Math worksheet has about 30 questions for the arithmetic section which is fine and some kids do two or three in a row so I guess they did 90. But to be frank, even if you can get 10 questions done or 5 questions done, or a few questions done several times a week, that’s brilliant, that’s better than doing nothing, okay? So don’t have in your head that this is going to be a huge, humongous task.You know, obviously if you want your kids to be really, really fast you’re going to need to put in some Kumon effort, some Kumon style effort. If you want them to be quite fast then put in some Thinkster Math effort and if you just want them to get the basic facts, then just do 10 questions several times a week.

Learn the basic math facts in this order

The next thing I’m going to go over is what order should you ask the questions? So I’ve got my whiteboard over here. So I’ve kind of got the 4 times tables, that my son was doing last week. I wrote them in order first, then in order again, and then in the next row I kind of skipped some and just wrote the odd number and then the even number times tables. So generally, try to do them in order. I would start with something that’s really easy. So if you know they’re struggling with their four times tables, start off with the two times tables. Give them that confidence by starting at an easier starting point.
So if you notice, for example, for addition, that they’re finding 8+5 difficult. (That 8+5 is the question I always ask my new Thinkster Math students. “What’s 8+5?”) If they can give me that quickly, then I know their arithmetic is generally okay. That’s just one of those facts that takes me a fraction of a second longer to get, so that’s why I picked 8+5. So if they’re struggling with 8+5, then give them an easier starting point. You could start with even the +1s and +2s and +3s and just give them the confidence to go fast. If they can do 9+3 quite quickly, then the leap from 9+3 to 8+5 isn’t that huge, but give them a running start, give them some easy work to get started with.

You don’t necessarily need to do the math facts at a desk

Taking my own advice from my Faster Times Tables website - use games to reinforce the times tables. Game board printed from the Twinkl website and LEGO game pieces custom built by my 8 year old!

Taking my own advice from my Faster Times Tables website – use games to reinforce the times tables. Game board printed from the Twinkl website and LEGO game pieces custom built by my 8 year old!

The other thing I want to talk about is where should you do them. Well of course, you know, you’re probably thinking I’m going to sit in front of them and I’m going to ask them lots of questions or I’m going to make them do lots of times tables worksheets. That’s fine. If your child is happy with doing that, that’s great. My son, last week, was going through a stage where he really didn’t want to do worksheets, he didn’t even want to write the answers so I wrote the questions and then I wrote the answers when he shouted them out to me.
And I’ve got some spellings over here on the whiteboard. You can see my other son’s spellings, so he decides to write those on the board but when we practice spellings, actually we usually practice them in the bathroom and then he writes with the board pen on the shower stall. So you can use that tip or you can even use a window because some kids just like writing somewhere different.
Another great tip is to do them in the car. So this tip came from one of my Thinkster Math parents. So what she does is she gets her child to do Thinkster Math while she’s driving because that way she can hear when the child is getting questions right or wrong. There’s like an audio sound of the Thinkster Math app. If her daughter gets stuck, she can give her some advice. She can say, “Hey, watch the video or read the question again,” but she’s not actually sitting over her and saying, “Do this, this, and this,” because she can’t, she’s driving. So I think in the car is a great location. You’ll probably notice that when you ask your kids a question they’ll often look away while they think of the answer. Also, it’s kind of confrontational if you’re staring at them, “Hey, what’s 8×9?” So try that, try in the car so that there’s less pressure if they get the questions wrong.

Learn the math facts by making mistakes

And finally, my last tip, is allow them to make mistakes. It’s not a big deal, don’t react, “Ah, you don’t know what 8×9 is?!” Just tell them, “8×9,” if they get it wrong, “It’s 72. What’s 8×9?” They say, “72.” “What’s 8×9?” “72.” So just ask them a few times before moving on and then have in mind that that’s one of those times tables that you’re going to have to go and review.

Tips for learning the math facts

So if we go back to the beginning:

  1. Do as many as you can. Lots will get through the process faster and your child will be faster at the basic facts. But even if you’re doing 10 facts several times a week, that’s fine, they’re going to get there.
  2. Go in order, start with something that’s slightly too easy, that’s fine.
  3. Do them in the car, on a whiteboard, on the window, on the shower stall. Just find somewhere really good to do them, somewhere different.(Actually, my son also likes playing board games so we adapted a board game and made it a times tables board game; using something we printed out.)
  4. And finally, allow them to make mistakes.

So for more quick tips and practical advice to help your kids to maths success, go to the Maths Insider website: www.mathsinsider.com.