Five Golden Rules for enjoying maths at home
- Maths is everywhere. Cooking, shopping, packing things into bags and boxes, planning a journey… even the buildings all around you. The more you look, the more you will see.
- Being wrong is OK. Don’t feel bad about mistakes – they are part of learning. If you, or someone else, gets to the wrong answer, then talk about it. How did you get there? See if you can come up with a better way to work it out.
- Believe in your own ability. Everyone has the potential to understand and enjoy maths. One of the UK’s biggest problems in maths education is children ‘catching’ their parents’ own low confidence in maths. If you don’t feel confident, this is more likely to have come from your life experience than your genes. You have the ability: you’ve just not had the chance to develop it. You probably use maths more than you give yourself credit for. So avoid suggesting that people in your family aren’t good at maths. Your children will believe it, and make it come true.
- Struggling is normal and healthy. If you can’t figure something out straight away, then you’re not alone. In fact, you are sharing an experience with professional mathematicians. It’s their job to get stuck on hard problems – sometimes for years! Some hints for getting unstuck include: Keep trying, try different methods, and try explaining what you don’t understand to someone else.
- Talking about how is interesting. Different people bring different talents to maths – and solve problems in different ways. If you ask someone else how they worked something out, you’ll learn something – even if you were both right.
There are loads of ways to do maths at home and enjoy it. Check out our blog for hints, tips and fun activities including Toast Tangrams, Times tables games, Little Robots and Hypnotic dancing triangles!
And there’s our list of games that are also maths, because many people just don’t notice the fun they are having with maths already.
Some activities you do at home anyway are maths: baking a cake involves measuring and shape. Measuring children’s height as they grow is also fun. Singing ‘Ten green bottles’ is maths. There is counting and pattern-forming in knitting. The ancient Japanese art of origami is mathematical. Practising these things can support the maths that’s taught in school. National Numeracy have put together a Family Maths Toolkit which is full of ideas – it’s worth taking a look.
We can also recommend other people’s products – like Polydron, which is a colourful shape-based construction kit, or Wooden Books geometrical colouring pages (you can see what we did with that colouring challenge here). We recommend Rob Eastaway’s book, Maths for Mums and Dads, or for a more academic study of how children learn maths, try Jo Boaler’s The Elephant in the Classroom. Oh, and on Twitter, try searching for
And finally: tell us what more you’d like. What maths, in particular, are you and your child finding difficult? Would you like… a Times Tables Songbook? A Fridge Magnet Pattern Challenge? Drinking-Straw Construction Kits? Let us know in the form below. We’re more likely to develop something new if we know that parents and children want it.