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Current teaching methods & helping with homework

Things may have changed since you were at school, but don't let that get in the way of helping your children with their maths

Current teaching methods

Teaching methods today are often different to the way that adults learnt when they were at school. Sometimes this can hold parents and carers back from helping their children with maths. They worry that they will confuse their child or that they won’t know how to answer a question.

But even if you don’t know the newer methods, you can still support your child with maths. If you don’t know the methods your child is using you could try: 

  • Asking your child to explain their method – get them to teach it to you.
  • Explaining that with maths there is often more than one way to solve a problem. Show each other how you do it – and remember, neither of you are wrong!
  • Asking your child’s teacher if they can share an explanation of the methods with you.

Whatever the method, remember that being positive about maths is just as important in supporting your child’s learning! Make sure you talk positively about maths and how you use it in real life – this will help your child stick with it.

Tips for helping with maths homework

  • If you don’t know something, that’s ok! Try and work out the problem together.

  • When your child gets stuck, ask them to explain what they’ve done so far and what they’re finding hard. Try to help them to work out where it is that they’ve gone wrong.
  • With older children, show an interest but let them be more independent and figure out problems for themselves as much as they can.
  • If they’re doing well, praise your child for the effort they’ve put in. Say “well done, you’ve worked so hard” rather than calling them clever. This helps children learn that their abilities can always develop as long as they work at it.
  • Rephrase questions if needed, using things that your child is interested in.
  • You might find it helpful to start a homework routine, setting aside homework time in a quiet place without distractions for your child.
  • With younger children, you could even set yourself some adult ‘homework’ to do at the same time – things like checking your phone bill or writing out a shopping list show them that you’re using the same skills they’re learning!
  • If the homework is too hard, speak to their teacher.

Questions to ask while working together

  • What do we need to do?
  • What information do we have? What do we need to find out?
  • How does this connect to other topics you’re learning at school?
  • What could we use this for in real life?
  • If we were doing this again, is there anything we could do differently?

Tips for talking to teachers

  • Don’t worry about what other parents are doing – find what works for you.
  • Parents’ evenings are a good place to talk, but you can also contact teachers via the school reception desk or by email to arrange a time to talk at another point.
  • Don’t be shy to ask questions. If teachers use words you don’t know, ask them to clarify what they mean.
  • Share achievements from home – tell the teacher what your child has done well or enjoyed.
  • Let the teacher know of any difficulties at home. The teacher can talk to you about support the school can offer.
  • Ask how your child is getting on at school: what is their strongest subject; what do they enjoy most; how are they being helped to make progress; where do they need help?
  • If you think a teacher has done a good job, tell them!

Help yourself to help others

If a fear of maths has you hiding from homework, we can help!

With a little help from us you can build your number confidence and skills, and begin to feel more prepared for when children come to you for help, and help pass your confidence onto them.

The free National Numeracy Challenge is designed to help you! It’s a free, quick and easy way to check your skills and confidence with numbers, where you can go at your own pace, with learning resources tailored to you and your level. It helps with the maths we come across at work and in daily life – not algebra, or trigonometry. You can get started in just 10 minutes, and join the 390,000 others that have already started their journey to number confidence. Give it a go!

Woman and young girl, holding up four fingers to show the number 4

Other resources

Here are some good resources that explain maths methods used in many primary schools. Remember that different schools may use different methods, so check with your child’s teacher which methods your child is learning.

Singapore Maths: A Guide for Parents

Find out about the 'Singapore Maths' or 'maths mastery' approach some schools use in this summary for parents.


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.

For mums and dads

Oxford Owl

The Oxford Owl website features activities, simple ideas, top tips and eBooks to help your child with their maths at home.


How to do maths so your children can too

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.

How to do maths

Maths 4 Mums and Dads

These 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.

Maths 4 mums and dads

The Maths Mum

The Maths Mum offers workshops and resources to support parents with their confidence in helping their children with maths and their understanding of maths teaching in schools.

Maths mum