When I tell people I’m a maths teacher, it’s usually met with groans, or maybe that’s just the effect I have on people. They’re probably glad I brought it up as it gives them an excuse to back off quickly!
Joking aside, once they’ve got over the shock, they go on to tell me how much they hated maths at school, usually because it made no sense to them. So, what can we do to take the hate out of maths?
To pass the 11 plus, children need to be confident in several topics. Maths is one of them. The others are non-verbal reasoning and verbal reasoning. They need to be able to work quickly and accurately at a high academic level. If you’re preparing your child for the 11 plus exam below are my top five Super Tips to make this easier. Take the hate out and put the fun in!
1. Make it fun
There are plenty of maths games websites available for children to learn through play. This is particularly important for children who do not enjoy maths. The younger they can have fun with it the better. In fact, for children at the start of their primary school journey, if you are doing extra work with them, I would argue that it should just be games and not worksheets. Let’s face it, with the best will in the world these can be a little dry for a four-year-old!
Here’s Maths Frame, a maths games site I recommend.
2. Build strong foundations
We all know what will happen if you build something on a weak foundation. If you secure the foundations then you can build more complicated topics on top. The cement for maths is addition, subtraction, multiplication and division.
Most children planning to sit the 11 plus exam need some input with multiplication and division. They will struggle to complete the exam in time and with working accurately if they haven’t got this nailed.
This will ultimately lead to a lower score. It’s competitive out there. They will need all the points they can get. You don’t want them throwing marks away when they have the method, but make an error on the final calculation.
Again, Maths Frame can help.
There also comes a time when worksheets are required. You can find plenty to practice on Twinkl.
3. Break it down
I find the best way to make maths easy it to break it down into simple chunks. When teaching a new topic, start with something they understand, then link it to the new topic. For example, when teaching area of a triangle to year 5 children, I start with a recap on the area of a rectangle.
I then split the rectangle in half and they calculate the area of the triangle. Breaking it down in this way enables children to figure it out for themselves. This gives them confidence and also leads to them being more likely to remember how to do the calculation in the future or to pick it up more quickly if they forget.
YouTube have excellent teaching videos. But if you need more input, we can help with that.
4. Practice, practice, practice.
The more your child practices the easier it will become. In the final weeks before the 11 plus it’s amazing just how little input our students require. They’ve been practising regularly throughout the year, for small chunks of time but frequently. We gradually increase the complexity, so that they’re growing in subject knowledge, in confidence and starting to figure out what’s required to answer the challenging maths questions for themselves. This is where practice can lead you.
5. Encourage making mistakes
Well, maybe not in the exam. By this I mean it doesn’t matter if your child answers a question incorrectly when they are learning. Understanding why they went wrong will help them to improve, especially if you can correct a misconception or error. Having a go and persevering is better than being frightened to offer an opinion and this is something we always encourage.
And above all remember that plenty of praise while doing well goes a long, long way.
Is that six super tips? Did I say I was a maths teacher? 😉
Super Tutoring prepares children for the 11 plus exam by plugging the gap between what’s taught at school and what’s needed to pass the 11 plus. Book a 15-minute chat with me to find out how we can help.