Parent Hack: Making Kids’ Maths Homework Fun (When You’ve Forgotten Arithmetic!)

Parent Hack: Making Kids' Maths Homework Fun (When You've Forgotten Arithmetic!)

A little rusty on your ‘jump strategy’? Forgotten what a ten sided shape is called? You know you’re in trouble when you’re puzzled by the kids’ maths homework! 

How on earth can you make learning maths fun for the kids when you don’t understand the sum of it all?! Not surprisingly, new research by maths e-learning app Matific has found many kids suffer from maths anxiety. The good news is that kids who participate in fun maths activities are more likely to be engaged and learn. And you don’t need to be a mathematician to do it!

Here’s a few tips for parents to sharpen up their numbers and easy ways to multiply the fun factor by 100 …

1. Brush up on what your kids are learning

Confession: I had no idea what a ‘jump strategy’ was a week ago. I couldn’t recall how many sides a hexagon had, or what an interior angle was. I had totally forgotten 12 years of maths lessons. So when I sat down to help my 8-year-old son, Maxwell, we weren’t off to a good start. My advice? Have a chat to the teacher. Find out what they are learning about in class. You can also find the info’ at Australian Curriculum, which sets the expectations for what all Australian students should be taught from kindy (Foundation) to Year 10. It’s a great overview, although a little formal!

For parent- and student-friendly explanations of ‘caterpillar counting, compensation strategy, cylinders’ and a load of maths terms I’ve never heard of, head to School A to Z. This is the maths bible – and powered by the NSW Government. Here you’ll find definitions, examples, worksheets and tips for Mathematics as well as English, Technology, Health and more.

Ask your child’s teacher for more references, as each state and school will vary in the resources they use (and add your tips in the comments box below!). Another independent site (not run by the education department or state government) is A Maths Dictionary for Kids, which has maths definitions as well as illustrative examples.

Parent Hack: Making Kids' Maths Homework Fun (When You've Forgotten Arithmetic!)

Most kids understand ‘time out’, but can they tell the time? The Odd Squad, available on Netflix, are clever cookies who use maths to solve crimes, puzzles and mysteries (and save the world!).

Related: Bec Judd On Teaching Her Kids To Read

2. Make maths a part of everyday conversation

“Whether you’re shopping, cooking, driving, playing sports outside or watching a movie, there is going to be maths involved,” suggests Brent Hughes, educator at Matific. “Parents must highlight this, but the key is to do it in a way that makes kids feel like they’re not being tested.”

Brent says instead of asking a formal question like, “How many grapes are there?” parents should ask, “How could we count these?”

“If they are counting by 1s ask them to try counting by 2s or 3s,” suggests Brent. “When they finish, simply ask, ‘how many would there be if there was two bags?’ Or, ‘what if we shared these with Daddy?’”

Parent Hack: Making Kids' Maths Homework Fun (When You've Forgotten Arithmetic!)

If there are 20 kids and only 11 pieces of chocolate, how many kids will end up with a lemon? The Odd Squad solve everyday problems as well the complex. Available on Netflix.

Related: Nutritionist Zoe Bingley-Pullin “My Toddler’s Day On A Plate”

3. It’s not about whether the child is correct

Our kids aren’t working for the International Stock Exchange or NASA, yet, so don’t make the learning process all about the ‘end figure’. It’s about the journey, not the destination!

“Maths homework isn’t a gruelling exam to test whether a child is a genius,” explains Brent. “It is about promoting mathematical thought and showing kids that maths is everywhere. E-learning has created more ways for parents to make this possible.”

Parent Hack: Making Kids' Maths Homework Fun (When You've Forgotten Arithmetic!)

The Odd Squad take a trip through space and time dabbling in quantum physics. Netflix.

Related: Kids’ School Shoes: What To Look For, What To Avoid

Yep, you can officially use the ‘screen time’ addiction to your advantage, with educational apps that offer learning games, entertaining episodes, worksheets and lesson plans – disguised as ‘cool kids stuff’!

“A great example of this is in Matific’s Spy-A-Meerkat counting game,” says Brent. “It is often very hard to count moving objects one by one, so it is better to mentally collect them in smaller groups (3, 2 and 1).”

Brent says while it’s always important to ensure kids have limits to the amount of screen time they have each day, screen time can convert into a learning experience that’s a fun and engaging way to grow their love of maths. “Much like the games our kids are comfortable playing on these devices, the short episodes available on Matific and games not only keep your kids entertained but are proven to help kids grow their understanding of maths.”

Parent Hack: Making Kids' Maths Homework Fun (When You've Forgotten Arithmetic!)

Too much screen time can have the kids seeing double. Or triple. Or quadruple. Or quintuple. Or sextuple. Try some brain stimulating screen time instead! Image Netflix.

Related: Should Kids Learn Computer Code NOW To Score The Jobs Of The Future?

4. Encourage kids to explain their train of thought

How’s your logic? “Maths is not just about answering questions, but also illustrating the steps it takes to get to the solution,” says Brent. “Parents can get kids involved in thinking this way during regular travel time. For example, on the way to and from school each day, on the way to extra-curricular activities on weekends and during holiday road trips.

“These conversations help kids think about addition and subtraction, an understanding of time and reasoning skills around traffic, speed and distance. All of this can be done by young children comfortably. Even if they aren’t totally correct, it doesn’t matter because they are engaged in meaningful maths conversation, which will mean when their teacher shows them a similar problem in the classroom, they have a method for solving it.”

Parent Hack: Making Kids' Maths Homework Fun (When You've Forgotten Arithmetic!)

Don’t panic, it’s not this difficult to extract their train of thought! Odd Squad, Netflix.

Related: Kids’ Body Image Issues: Dos & Don’ts Parents Say

5. Show kids that maths is everywhere

How many apples are in the fruit bowl? How many minutes of reading do they need to do before they score free time? How many times do you need to ask them to brush their teeth?!

“Maths is involved in so many day-to-day activities, and it is important kids keep this in mind,” says Brent. “The best way for parents to do this is to find something kids wouldn’t ordinarily think would involve maths and point out some fun facts. Sports like soccer, AFL and basketball are all great illustrations of this.”

Parent Hack: Making Kids' Maths Homework Fun (When You've Forgotten Arithmetic!)

How many kids are wearing red trainers? How many kids have their hair tied back? There’s more than just sheep to count! Odd Squad, on Netflix.

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“Beyond looking at the scoreboard, everything from the number of players on the field, size of the pitch to the shape of the ball itself can be considered. A simple question about why kicking the top of the ball makes it roll across the field faster gets kids thinking about larger concepts that involve maths. When parents highlight this in a way that is casual and conversational, kids won’t be so scared of mathematics.”

Have you got any maths homework tips for parents? Know any great resources for kids, homework and parents? Share your tips and comments below!

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6 Comments

  1. May 26, 2017 / 9:24 pm

    Hi again Franki. It’s only been 2 months, my apologies, I haven’t had notification of your reply! My App is called “Maths Rockx – Times Tables!” The EDU version is the best as you can Family Share on all your devices at home! Thanks again for your interest. You will love it. 🙂

    • May 27, 2017 / 6:30 am

      Hi Jo, thanks for sharing the App name. I’ll download it and start those times tables with my son!

  2. March 13, 2017 / 12:03 pm

    Hi there Franki,
    Great article.. I love seeing fun and innovative ways for our children to find Maths fun. I actually created an awesome little Educational App called “Maths Rockx”. It sings the Times Tables to rock songs from amazing artist’s such as P!NK, Lady Gaga, 1D, Pharrell Williams and more. It’s been taking Australia by storm because it’s sooo much fun – and it Works! We are usually in the top 3 of Educational App’s in Australia and it’s helping so many children get their confidence back. I am an ex teacher and I taught the tables this way for over 15 years. My gorgeous husband backed me and we are so proud of our little creation! Thanks Franki – Jo Otto

    • March 13, 2017 / 12:36 pm

      Hi Jo, that’s very clever of you! Well done! And thanks for sharing your App with our readers – I’ll check it out now…

      • jootto10
        March 29, 2017 / 11:38 am

        Thanks Franki 🙂 If you would like I can shoot you through an App so you can play around with it and see what you really think. More than happy. Thanks loads, Jo

        • March 29, 2017 / 2:29 pm

          Thanks Jo – what’s the App called? Is it in the app store? I can download it – no need to send me one 🙂

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