Talking about maths with children
As a parent or carer, you give your child their first taste of maths. Even as they get older, you have a big impact on how their feelings towards maths develop. But you don’t need to be a maths expert to support your child. All families can make a difference to their children’s maths learning and help them build their confidence with numbers.
- Talk positively about maths. Children learn from example, so avoid saying things like “I can’t do maths” or “I hated maths at school.” It’s easy for children to take that on board themselves. Keeping things positive is more likely to help children develop confidence with maths.
- Point out the maths in everyday life. Maths is all around us – it’s not just something that happens in school! Showing children the numbers in things like cooking, using money and travelling is a simple way to bring maths to life. This will help children see the value of learning maths.
- Praise children for effort rather than talent. Giving children praise is important, but the type of praise we use can have an impact on how they feel about maths. Praising children for the hard work they’ve put in, or for working out the steps to get to an answer, is more helpful than simply telling them they’re clever. It helps them see that it’s not about natural ability – but that by working hard they can always improve.
Talking to your child about school
When your child comes home from school there is a lot you will want to discuss with them.
These are some things to keep in mind when you’re talking to them about their day.
- The way you ask the questions matters. If you give your child the opportunity to answer with one word (yes, no, a name), then you’re likely to get a one-word response. Ask open-ended questions to keep the conversation going.
- Children are not often specific so you may need to ask for specific information where necessary.
- Starting with factual questions is a great way to start a conversation.
- Don't be judgmental about what your child says or does, just ask what might happen next or what they learned. This encourages children to share things with you and work out solutions themselves
- Avoiding emotional words (fun, happy, sad, mean) will allow the conversation to go on longer.
- Ask positive questions to give your child a chance to express any concerns. Negative questions will often stop a conversation.
Family Maths Toolkit
The Family Maths Toolkit resources help families enjoy maths together.
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The resources include parent information sheets that go into more detail about how you can help your children with their maths in the way you communicate.
Visit these other resources to help you when talking to children about maths.
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