Current teaching methods

Some areas of the maths curriculum are taught differently today to how most adults were taught at school.

We know that lots of parents and carers find it helpful to understand how their children are taught, so here are some good resources that explain teaching methods clearly.

The best thing that parents and carers can do for children is to have a positive attitude towards maths.

Talking to teachers

Want to talk to your child's teacher but not sure the best way to go about it? Here are some tips to help you.

Don't worry about what other parents are doing - find what works for you

  • If you can't attend parents' evening or have a question or concern that can't wait, contact your child's teacher, either through the school reception or email them to arrange a time to talk. You can usually find teacher's email addresses on the school website.
  • Don't be shy to ask questions. If teachers use unfamiliar terms, ask them to clarify what they mean.
  • Let the teacher know of any difficulties at home which may be affecting your child. The teacher can talk to you about the kind of support the school can offer.
  • Share achievements and successes from school and at home.
  • If you think a teacher has done a good job, tell them – it goes a long way!

Parents' Evenings

You might only get a short time with your child's teacher at parents' evening. Think before you go about what you'd like to find out from them.

Here are some ideas to get you started. Include what is important to you and your child.

  • Do they seem happy at school? Is their behaviour good?
  • Do they get along with other children and who do they play with?
  • What is their strongest subject and which do they enjoy most? These are not always the same!
  • What is their weakest subject and how are they being helped to make progress?
  • What is my child's attitude to learning?
  • Are they making steady progress?
  • Do they contribute to class discussions? Do they participate in activities?
  • Are they at the expected level for their age group? If they are below or above, ask what is being done in school to support or challenge them?
  • If your child is preparing for tests or exams, where do they need help? Are they on target to get the results they need?
  • What can we do at home to help? Take this opportunity to talk about homework.
  • If your child has any learning difficulties, ask what extra support the school is providing.
  • If you have a written report, use the meeting to ask about anything you are not sure about.

Explanations of methods.

The books or videos below demonstrate some of the calculation methods used in primary schools. There may be some variation depending on the school and the year group your child is in. Please check with your child's teacher which methods your child is learning.

Help Your Child With Numeracy: Age Range 3-7/7-11

By Dr Rosemary Russell - These two books offer parents clear descriptions of the ways maths is taught in schools today, as well as examples of the kinds of calculations children will learn at different ages.

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Families Learning Together

Information on key areas of learning for each year group and how they are taught.

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Parents in Touch: Help your child at home with maths

Understand the current methods used in schools and encourage your child to enjoy learning about numbers through everyday activities.

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Methods up to Year 6

Explanations of methods taught in maths up to Year 6.

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Maths for Mums and Dads

Maths for Mums and Dads guides you through the basics of primary school maths, covering any problems you are likely to be confronted with. There's is also a version for secondary school.

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How to do Maths so Your Children Can Too: The Essential Parents’ Guide

This book works through maths topics with a simple step-by-step approach, explaining new ways of teaching maths that can confuse parents. This book bridges the gap between primary and secondary school, and is packed full of easy to understand examples.

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Help Your Kids with Maths: A Visual Problem Solver for Kids and Parents

By Carol Vorderman - This book uses clear, accessible pictures, diagrams and easy-to-follow steps. It covers everything from basic numeracy to more challenging subjects like statistics and algebra. Includes a glossary of key maths terms and symbols.

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A Parent's Survival Guide to Maths Homework: Make Sense of Your Kid's Maths

By Andrew Brodie - This book shows the different methods that are used in primary schools today, and focuses on the 'four rules' of number: addition, subtraction, multiplication and division.

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Homework Help for Mums & Dads

By Karen Dolby - This book covers the whole range of subjects included in the national curriculum and has an excellent section on basic maths, with some great tips for parents.

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group of kids

Tips for Parents

Tips to take away maths fear factor for parents

Multiplication Mat

This printable mat strengthens understanding of different methods for multiplication.

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More info about how maths works at school

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Oxford Owl

Ten important things to know about maths at school

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BBC Bitesize

Explanations of curriculum topics up to year 11

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Maths 4 Mums and Dads

This site explains some of the milestones children make between the ages of 3-and-11-years-old.

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The Elephant in the Classroom: Helping Children Learn and Love Maths

Written by Jo Boaler, this book offers suggestions on ways to teach maths well, and how to help children learn at home. Boaler stresses that the most important thing is to teach children to reason and problem solve.

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