The way that we teach maths in school

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Some advice and guidance for parents and carers

 “There should be no such thing as boring mathematics.” – Edsger Dijkstra

Some areas of the maths curriculum are taught differently today to how most mums, dads and grown-ups were taught when they were at school. To help parents and carers understand how their children are taught, we want to share and explain our teaching methods clearly. We strongly believe that the best thing that parents and carers can do for children is to have a positive attitude towards maths. It might be that teaching methods or the ways that you solve a problem are different but numbers haven't changed; it's just we might use different way of doing things!

Because we use maths skills every day in all different activities, children develop maths skills in all different ways. From playing computer games, buying sweets, doing some baking at home or figuring out how far their pocket money will stretch! Children will develop maths skills without even realising it!

In school, there is a focus on developing arithmetic skills (solving addition, subtraction, multiplication and division calculations) and problem solving and reasoning. Alongside both of these strands there is the importance of quick number fact recall: knowing times-tables, addition/subtraction facts and number bonds. We teach all these skills discretely and in context to help build children's abilities to use maths.

In school, we have a calculation policy that outlines the methods that we use, the vocabulary that we use and outlines the progression from one year group to the next, based on the National Curriculum for Maths.

You can download a copy of the school calculation policy here.

 Download our calculation policy here

Download our calculation policy here

Let's Talk about Maths

Math talk grows with your child. Math talk is simply talking to your child about the math that they experience. Parents can mathematize everyday experiences. If we add two more children to your birthday party list, how many children will there be? How many goody bags should we make up? Let the child think about it and work it out. The key is to participate in a friendly discussion over interesting mathematical ideas and concepts. For instance, wrong answers that were arrived at with good reasoning need to be rewarded. We've put together some ideas (adapted from Maths Resources for Parents) for how you can talk to your children about maths in everyday contexts. Click on the picture below to read the ideas.

About the School Calculation Policy:

This booklet is a guide to the steps that your child will encounter as they progress in maths, from when they start school at four all the way to secondary education. It will cover processes for addition, subtraction, multiplication and division and will focus on mental strategies and written calculation. It covers the expected progress in each year group however it is important to note that your child may not learn all of these strategies in their time at primary school. Following the expectations for each year group, it then includes a colourful guide to calculation strategies and methods that your children will be taught. There is also some tips on how to incorporate maths into day to day life and how you can help your children as well as a useful glossary of mathematics terms your child will encounter during their Primary School life.

Our school aims:

“[All pupils should] become fluent in the fundamentals of mathematics, including through varied and frequent practice with increasingly complex problems over time, so that pupils develop conceptual understanding and the ability to recall and apply knowledge rapidly and accurately […] The expectation is that the majority of pupils will move through the programmes of study at broadly the same pace. However, decisions about when to progress should always be based on the security of pupils’ understanding and their readiness to progress to the next stage.” (Mathematics programmes of study: key stages 1 and 2 National curriculum in England: September 2013).

The current curriculum is based around the concept that all children need to master age-related skills. At St Mary’s Cockerton School, we want our learners to be happy, successful and confident. Through discussions with parents and our own experiences, the staff here understand that the maths historically learnt at school can look very different from the maths we teach today. The National Curriculum today has its foundations built around place value and the understanding of number as opposed to the rote learning of methods and techniques.

We would ask that you support us with your child’s learning by modelling with them the method they are currently using in school. We want this document to encourage you as parents and carers that if you are ever unsure, please do ask the class teacher for advice. 

Problem solving:

It’s not just about being able to solve straight forward calculations, children need to be able to solve real life problems. To achieve our goal as teachers we aim for pupils to be able to apply the processes taught to them in a range of situations.

As you are aware in mathematics it’s not just about being able to solve straight forward calculations, children need to be able to solve real life problems. To achieve our goal as teachers we aim for pupils to be able to apply the processes taught to them in a range of situations. Here are some top tips when helping your child solve problems.

When problem solving you could ask your children:

•      What process/processes are involved? Is this an addition or a take away?

•      Can you work it out in your head?

•      Do you need to draw a picture or do jottings to help you?

•      Would a number line help you?

•      Do you need to use a written method?  

•      Is it appropriate to use a calculator?

•      Is the answer sensible? This last one is crucial, it ensures the child is not purely relying on a process but is thinking about whether the answer is appropriate. For example 24 x 4 does not equal 6, as it is 24 lots of 4. Two lots of 4 is 8, which is greater than 6. 

Some websites that might be useful