How to help your child improve their numeracy skills

Establishing strong calculation skills, even at a basic level, will make all areas of maths much quicker and easier to grasp. The ability to calculate sums accurately in your child's head can save them time in exams, but also in their general day to day life.

Here are some simple tips for ways to help improve your child's mental maths skills:

Relate calculation to real life: Next time you are heading out for dinner, why not ask for some assistance in working out how much everyone's meal has cost. Ask your child to divide the total by the number of people at the table (make it a bit easier for them by rounding up).

Take them to the supermarket: Supermarkets are jam packed with maths waiting to happen. If you spot a 50% off deal, ask your child to tell you what the original price would have been. Do you need 12 eggs? Ask your child how many boxes of six you will have to buy achieve this. If you are buying fruit for the week and every member of the family has one apple a day, how many apples will you need to by to have enough to last until Saturday? It is key in this situation to keep the maths relatively simple, otherwise you risk putting your child off playing the game and losing their interest.

Puzzles: there are a number of numeracy based puzzles in newspapers or magazines, do them with your child to encourage them to develop an affinity with numbers.

Play games: board games can be a great source of fun maths, games such as Monopoly, Blackjack, Rummy, and numerous others have a mathematic element.

Lead by example: try to express a positive interest in maths yourself. Avoid projecting your negative feelings or sense that 'I can't do maths'. Articulate when you are trying to work something out in your head so your child is more aware of how often you do this. Encourage them to help you if you are struggling to work out sums yourself and praise them for trying and for helping you.

Unfortunately, the most tried and tested way of improving numeracy skills is simply by doing more maths! Practice does make perfect when it comes to numbers, but encouraging your child to recognise calculations and mathematical principles in their everyday lives is going to encourage them to build up an awareness of maths and realise its importance.
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