WHITE MERE COMMUNITY PRIMARY SCHOOL PARENT INFORMATION Maths at KS1 (Key Stage One) Overview If you're not sure why we teach your child maths in the way we do, here's an explanation. Children are referred to here as 'he'. There are eight main ways your child learns maths. You can help by doing similar things at home. 1 Through handling real objects Many young children find it hard to think without real things around them. (Adults are often the same. You know that feeling when someone is trying to explain something to you and all you want to say is 'Let me have a go'?) When your child begins to count, it helps if he can count real objects. It helps if when he first starts to add two numbers together, he can actually add two lots of things in front of him so that he can see what's happening. At home you could: Find lots of things to count and add such as knives and forks on the table, tins of beans and peas. 2 Through discussion Most of us understand things much better when we have a chance to talk about them. Talking makes us think about what we mean. It forces us to work out what we are doing and it helps other people to take part and occasionally put us right. Your child is no different. By talking with you and his teacher about what he is doing, your child is helping his brain get itself around the ideas of maths. It also gives us a chance to see how well he understands what he's doing. Through doing and talking together, his understanding will develop much faster than it would otherwise. At home you could: Talk with your child about how you do maths. Listen to him tell you what he's doing. 3 Through using maths in real life Doing maths in books is good practice, but it doesn't always help children to see how useful it is. So, whenever possible, we try to find ways of letting children use maths outside their maths lessons or away from their maths books. We might ask them to use maths when they are making maps in geography or building models in technology. Using maths in real life is one of the ways you can help your child a great deal. At home you could: Let your child see you using maths, counting money, telling the time. 4 Through taking time to introduce pictures and writing Adults are so used to using pictures and writing that we sometimes forget that they are not real. This isn't a ball. It's just a picture of a ball. This word 'ball' isn't a ball either. It's a collection of letters, which we have come to realise means a round object which can be played with. This '5' isn't five real things, either. It's a special sign, which we have to learn means this number of things. For young children, making these links between pictures, words and the 'real thing' isn't always easy. That's why the books we use with young children often have pictures alongside the numbers and signs which make up maths. 5 Through 'tricks of the trade' Maths has its rules and 'tricks' like everything else. If your child knows all the combinations of numbers which add up to 10, then adding up numbers which come to more than 10 can be easier, for example 6 + 5 = 6 + 4 + 1. If your child can count in twos and then fives, tens and so on (what schools call 'number patterns') he will be able to add and multiply much better. If your child knows that an odd number added to an even number always results in an odd number, it is easier for him to have an idea of whether he has the right answer The 'tricks' don't replace understanding. If your child only knows the tricks and has not done any of the other kinds of learning maths, we haven't done our job properly. WHITE MERE COMMUNITY PRIMARY SCHOOL 6 Through mental maths PARENT INFORMATION Mental maths is very important, which is why we teach it. There's nothing especially difficult about mental maths. It simply means your child knowing the basic facts so well that he doesn't need to work them out. We try to make the learning of maths facts fun by using games and quizzes. Mental maths takes place every day. 7 Through practice Practice helps your child get better. So we try to give him as many chances as possible to practise what he's learnt. Sometimes, this will be by doing activities in his books. At other times, it will be by using his maths in other subjects. We have to be careful about how much practice to give each child. Practice can sometimes waste time if your child already knows what to do. Too much practice can be boring. 8 Through our 'maths scheme' Your child will do a lot of work using our maths scheme. A maths scheme is simply a collection of work which has been produced by a publishing company. Like most schools, we use one because a. b. c. d. it has been written by people who know a lot about maths it is brighter and more colourful than anything we could produce it has been carefully worked out for children of different abilities it saves us time. Our maths scheme helps us teach your child maths using all the ways you have just read about. If you want to have a closer look, please ask your child's teacher. To Sum Up Learning maths takes time for most children. There are stages your child needs to go through - he can't learn everything at once. The National Curriculum and Numeracy Strategy has laid out the important stages for your child as he moves through school. Some children pass quickly through the stages. If your child is naturally good at maths, we don't want to hold him back. If he isn't, this doesn't mean that he can't improve. It does mean that it's important that at each stage he is given the chance to learn maths through the different sorts of activities we've described. No one activity is better than any other. Your child needs the chance to practise them all in order to become as good at maths as he can.