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How to help kids with their maths homework

You’re not alone if it's a struggle to get their homework done. Whether they’re tired, you’re low on time or you’re just a bit rusty – some days it's just not happening.

The good news is there are easy ways to help your child with maths as part of your daily routine. There are also loads of games you can play whether it's a rainy day or you're out and about. Here are some top tips from mums and dads for fun ways to help your child with their maths:

Tips to make maths homework fun

Tip#1: Use maths to explain things they care about

Kids are more likely to learn when they’re interested. For example, if they’re football mad, you could ask them how many players would be left on the field if 2 players are shown the red card.

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Tip#2: Get baking!

Keep your child entertained after school by making a snack together like banana bread or apple flapjacks

Here are some ideas for helping them with maths in the kitchen:

  1. Count the eggs, bananas, apples and other items going into the mix
  2. Talk to your child about what you’re doing – show them the numbers you’re using to help you cook from the recipe and ask if they can read any to you. Tell them how you’re using them e.g. measuring the flour & setting the temperature.
  3. You could ask them to help you set some of the numbers – like the dial on the oven, or  a stopwatch on your phone.

If your child is further along with their maths, you can help them to:

  1. Measure the flour and sugar
  2. Work out what volume of cake tin you need – for square tins, they could use a ruler
  3. Convert the measurements from imperial to metric
  4. Convert minutes into hours
  5. Double the recipe
  6. Set the timer and read the numbers to you as they go down
  7. Use a clock to work out when your baking will be ready

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Tip#2: Snakes & ladders

Playing games together like Snakes & Ladders, Connect 4 and Bingo all help them with addition and subtraction. Here are more free games you can play on a rainy day that will help them with their maths.

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Tip#3: Take them shopping

Keep them busy during the shop by getting them to write a mini shopping list of something they’re going to help you make. Ask them add up how much it will cost as they go around. Can they work out what the correct change will be?

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Tip#4: Back-to-back

To help your child learn about shapes and symmetry, draw half of a picture (e.g. the outline of a butterfly) and get your child to draw the other side. Keep going with pictures they like (e.g. their favourite cartoon characters). Swap roles and draw what they’ve done for you.

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Tip#5: How heavy?

Get out some kitchen or bathroom scales and start weighing different items around your house. For older kids – what can they put together that will add to 2kg? 100g?

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Tip#6: Ahoy there matey!

Get some newspaper and make some pirate hats together. Show your child the triangles and show how they fit together. Talk about how they’re the same on both sides and that means they’re symmetrical. Then go conquer the seven seas!

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Tip#7: Times tables

Most kids will learn to chant along to the times table, but the real trick is in understanding what it means. Getting some objects will help your child to learn it – and let’s be honest, probably help most of us to re-learn it!

For the:

  • 2 times table - use ten 2p coins
  • 3 times table – cut out 10 triangles and count the sides
  • 4 times table – cut out 10 squares and count the sides
  • 5 times table – use ten 5p coins
  • 6 times table – cut out hexagons and count the sides
  • 7 times table – draw around a 20p to give ten heptagons and count the sides
  • 8 times table – draw or make ten octopi and count the tentacles
  • 9 times table – draw or make ten 9 spotted ladybirds and count the spots
  • 10 times table – use 10p coins

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Tip#8: I’m thinking of a number…

A good game to play in the car! Ask them to guess a number you’re thinking of between 0 and 20. Is the number higher or lower? Is it odd or even? Is it multiple of...

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Tip#9: Piggy bank

Open your wallet or a piggy bank until you have a good selection of coins from 1p to £2. What is the best way to count all of the money? Piles of ten? Big coins first? Put all the same values together? Start with a few coins and then add more, depending on your child’s confidence.

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Tip#10: Set the table

Get your child to share the food out for everyone equally. For older children – can they work out how much needs to go on everyone's plate if they share out different portions (e.g. 1/3 for the baby?). For younger children -  can they count out how many plates, knives and forks will need to go out?

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Tip#11: Play shop-keepers

A fun game for a rainy day! Get some post-it notes and label items from around the house like their favourite toys with prices up to 50p. Items can be multiples of 5, 10 or 1p depending on how confident your child is at maths. Pay them with real money or “post it money” (e.g. £2), and get your little “shop keeper” to give you accurate change. Swap and repeat!

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Tip#12: Robot shapes

Play together after school by drawing robots with shapes. Use an old food box or greetings card to make a range of 2D shapes. Draw shapes like squares, rectangles, triangles, pentagons, heptagons, hexagons, and octagons. You can draw around cans, coins etc for different circles.

Cut out the shapes and use them as templates to create pictures. Can you work together to draw a robot?

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Tip#13: Receipt run-down

If you keep receipts, give them to your child and ask them to put them in order for you. It will help them to learn about things like decimal places. Ask if they can help you by telling you if some items were cheaper than others.

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Tip#14: Who has the longest?

Ask your child to see who in your family has the longest jump, the shortest hair, the longest throw etc. Ask them to guess first, and then measure with a ruler. Ask them to write it down as 152 cm, 1.52m, or 1m 52cm.

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Tip#15: World records

Ask your child to see how long it takes them to do different things – get dressed, clean their room, do 10 star jumps, write their name in 1 minute, draw circles, draw as many straight lines as they can, or play their favourite games. Get them to write down their answers and compare with how long it takes them the next time. Why not time how long it takes you to do the same things and compare?

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Tip#16: Bank bargains

Get as many as you can 2p, 5p and 10p for your “bank”. Ask your child “If I give you 6, 2ps, how much is that?”. “How many 2ps can you give me for 16p?”. “I’ve got ten 5ps, how many 10ps will you swap me for them?”. “What is best to have, three 5ps, or eight 2ps?”. At first, just use one value of coin, and then add in more as your child gets more confident.

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Tip#17: Having fun outside

Homework doesn’t need to be something you do inside – take it outside by getting them to count what they see on the way to school, counting throws at the park, or even playing football together. You can find more game to keep them entertained that will help them with their maths here.  

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Tip#18: Wind down to bedtime

Bring some counting games into your bedtime routine, like reading the clock so they know it’s time for bed and 2 minutes of brushing their teeth and. Find more tips for counting down to bedtime here.

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Top tip: Keep it fun

Don't worry if your child gets the answer wrong. Let them know it's not a big deal. Try to praise their effort rather than them getting answers right. That way, they'll get more confident at trying to solve things, even if they don't come up with the right answer straight away.

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Play & Learn School & Homework Child (4-8 years)

Last updated: 7 Jan, 2020