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A Little Bit of Maths Help


It’s going to be a bit of a cheat, this post. Probably the shortest one I’ve ever written, but my mind is so pre-occupied with the ongoing 11+ exams at the moment, that I can barely think of anything else. We did (yes, it feels like we all are doing it) the Selective Eligibility Test two weeks ago. Last week we got the results and now I’m biting my nails before the second stage in the next few days. Nerve-racking, I tell you. Plus it looks like it accelerates the rate at which my hair goes grey, so not recommended as a part of a beauty regime. 😉 We are now on the last straight home and whatever will be, will be. At least all the 11+ stress will be over.

Now, back to the intended topic – a little bit of help with maths.

Our primary school recently organised a very well attended ‘maths evening’. It was a presentation on how maths is taught at school under the new curriculum and depending on the age group. I was relieved to see that year 6 does maths exactly the way I remember from the past century, when I went to school (that does make me sound ancient, doesn’t it?), but if I had a child in a younger year group, in particular year 3 or 4, I would nearly have to re-learn maths from scratch! Thankfully, they gave us a booklet with examples of how the four operations (addition, subtraction, multiplication and division) are taught now, so at least I have something to refer to.

Talking to other parents during the course of the evening, I realised, that for some people it’s not only the method of teaching maths that causes problems – many of them simply don’t remember enough maths to be able to help their children with homework.

I am somewhat addicted to buying reference books – no, internet will never replace real books for me – and have a selection of various maths books among others. Below are a few that may be useful if you find yourself struggling sometimes while explaining maths to your child.

My first port of call is usually an excellent book by Carol Vorderman ‘Help Your Kids With Maths’. It explains mathematical concepts in a very clear and concise manner and can be used both by parents and older children.

There are also illustrated maths dictionaries which can be very useful when you get stuck on something. The ones I have used are:

  • ‘Oxford Primary Illustrated Maths Dictionary’– it explains key mathematical terms/definitions in simple terms, easy enough for children to use independently; 
  • ‘Usborne Junior Illustrated Maths Dictionary’ – aimed at the later years of primary school (Key Stage 2 in the UK, age 8-11), with loads of easy-to-follow examples;
  • ‘The Usborne Illustrated Dictionary of Maths’ – more advanced, covering secondary school (Key Stage 3, age 11-14) curriculum;
  • ‘Oxford Study Mathematics Dictionary’ – intended for Key Stage 3 and GCSC students (age group 11-16). It is more of a source of reference material, rather than worked examples.

If I remember correctly, I bought these books from WHSmith, except for the last one, which I think I found on Amazon. I imagine,  though, a quick Google search will come up with a few more places where you could find them.

Between those few books, you should be able to find enough explanations and examples to become your child’s maths guru and ‘feel epic’ (to paraphrase a popular TV ad). Enjoy!

(I’ve just re-read what I’ve written – it was supposed to be a very short post… I could call it short-ish, I suppose… ;))

2 thoughts on “A Little Bit of Maths Help

  1. Hi Beata,
    I see you are getting along with exams, and good luck on that. I remember that when I found out in nursing school I had to take Algebra (I had done dismally in it in high school), I panicked. Luckily we had an instructor who was a high school algebra teacher moonlighting. She taught very straight-forward, and I passed by checking out every algebra book in the library I could find and working hundreds of practice problems.

    The most important thing she taught me? To make sure you take photographs in black and white, because color photos fade, and that you don’t have to invest in an expensive, acid free container to keep your photos in. An old shoebox works just fine. (She was also a photographer lol.) 🙂

    1. Hi Cathy,

      The way you dealt with algebra is exactly the way to do it – practice, practice and more practice! I remember I struggled with analytical geometry at some point in high school and did exactly the same as you – got loads of books and went through endless examples until I learnt how to solve those particular problems.

      It’s good to know I am not the only one who uses old shoe boxes for storing things away! What’s the point in buying fancy containers when recycling what we already have works just fine?

      Thanks again for writing, Cathy, I really appreciate you giving up your time 🙂

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