Maths and More
We take having fun with numbers very seriously here at Shade. On this page, we will share ideas and information to help you help your child.
Parents often ask if there is work we can send home to help with Maths and most times the answer is no - the best help you can give us is to encourage your child to see the numbers and the maths around them. Help them to learn their number facts and keep them curious and fascinated by pattern, sequence, and the unique "magic" of maths and number...
Count steps; talk about time, weight or distance; estimate the stars in the sky, leaves on a tree, or buttons in a box; make 35 (or any other number!) as many different ways as you can; learn times tables and the divisions too; ask about the maths they do in school - just show an interest (even if you have to fake it a little bit!) and let them show you what they know.
White Rose Maths
During lockdown, lots of you will have seen (or been aware of) the White Rose Maths videos. We follow the White Rose Maths principles here at Shade and use their excellent planning as a starting block for our lesson-plans.
White Rose Maths grew out of a group of passionate teachers in Halifax who could see the benefits of children really understanding "the maths behind the methods". They have used research from across the world to develop their ideas into a scheme of teaching and learning Maths that is now used far and wide.
The aim is to really deepen children's understanding of the maths system - place value and the four operations so they can be flexible thinkers and apply their skills to all kinds of problems.
Unpicking maths problems relies on using what you know to find out what you don't know - so really understanding what the words and symbols we count with actually mean, is a great base to build on.
It is vital that children see that a number (7 or 59 for example) can be made in many ways - know where it fits in numbers to 10, 20, 100 and beyond and have instant recognition of the value of each digit in a number. In Early Years and Key Stage 1, they need hands on experience of what numbers look like - quantities spread out, clumped together, broken into groups, lined up in patterns. In Key Stage 2, they should start to be able to imagine and manipulate numbers in their heads.
The other skill that children need is the right vocabulary to talk about their maths in a really specific way. Mrs Sutcliffe always says that children are naturally brilliant mathematicians (how else would they be able to tell us that something wasn't FAIR?!) - what confuses them is the language and the representations that we use in maths.
So, although maths is the same as it always was, we spend much more time now exploring and breaking down the skills and the strategies. It is no longer considered a good idea for children to "just know" a method - the aim is that they understand why that method works.
This is why your child might be taught more than one method to approach a calculation, why they are taught to represent numbers with pictures or bar models - and why we are so keen to get the very basic facts drilled home as they will underpin everything else your child learns in Maths. The quicker we can get away from counting on with our fingers, the better!
White Rose Maths have launched a mini-series to help explain this approach to parents. It's well worth a look and comes in a few small videos, available on their Parent page.
Why Mrs Sutcliffe believes that key maths facts are the most important skill.
Imagine if you were trying to drive a car and every time you wanted to change gear, you had to stop everything else, look down at the gear stick and work out which gear you were already in, which gear you wanted to be in and how to move the gear stick between those positions.
You've either ground to a halt or crashed by now!
And so it is when trying to calculate fractions, percentages, ratio, area (or in KS1, learning to calculate bigger numbers or solving multi-step problems)...
Without the basic facts at their fingertips, children are going to really struggle to complete their work - and if they do get there, it's been a slow process of stopping to work out a side fact, remembering what they were doing to start with and putting it all back together again.
Frustrating and slow-going, with lots of bumped body-work on the way.
Having a really good grasp of the key facts will give your child confidence, speed and accuracy in their Maths as they build onto a solid foundation.
At school, we subscribe to Numbots and Times Table Rockstars - both of these programmes are designed by experienced teachers and developed over years of trials and understanding of how best to learn Maths facts. They are both built to offer children a few key facts, over and over until they know them - then introducing some more. This creates something we call "automaticity" - where the child doesn't need to think, it's an automatic response.
You can load the TTRS and Numbots apps on a computer by clicking the links above or onto a tablet/smartphone through the Play or App stores. School pays for these services so they're free for you to download. Although these sites look very much like games and should be fun for the children to use - they are cunningly disguised and very powerful, if used a few times a week.
For details of each site - how to play etc, visit our dedicated page for Numbots here (coming soon) and for Times Table Rockstars here.
Mrs Sutcliffe works around school - supporting and championing maths where-ever she can. Follow her Twitter account* (below) to get more idea of what Maths looks like in Shade.
*She also teaches other subjects from time to time and hi-jacks her maths account to show great science or topic work too!