With Fiona Goddard, Senior Education Consultant at Whizz, primary maths expert and teacher of thirty years.
Q: We used Maths-Whizz over the summer and really like it. Now my son Edward (10) has returned to school and has lots of other work. So how much tutoring time should I schedule for Edward now?
A: It’s great to hear Edward likes Maths-Whizz! The important thing now is to continue with the momentum he has built over the summer. Maths-Whizz will help Edward secure his mathematical foundations across several topics, which will really help with his school work. He may even have the chance to get ahead in some places, which is always great for confidence.
I always advise parents to discuss your child’s learning goals. Ask Edward what he likes about maths, and about Maths-Whizz. You can then set some goals together. On Maths-Whizz you can aim for 3 Progressions each week and earn the ‘Superstar’ status by achieving this eight weeks in a row. Then maintain that status by staying consistent, week-on-week.
I recommend scheduling an hour each week – Edward should get to upwards of 4 Progressions, which will lead to accelerated progress. Find a suitable time in the week so that it doesn’t clash with Edward’s homework and other activities. Our research shows that learning is maximised in small sessions so you may break that time into three twenty-minute slots (aiming for at least one Progression each session).
The ultimate goal of Maths-Whizz is to make learning a habit for your child. It’s all about short, focused sessions, scheduled consistently each week.
Q: My eldest child Mikey (12) is really struggling to get a handle on simultaneous equations. Can you offer any suggestions?
A: The first thing is to reassure Mikey that struggle is a natural part of doing mathematics.
To develop Mikey’s intuition for simultaneous equations, find a real world example and get Mikey to talk through his thinking. It’s important to balance the need between following procedures and understanding how they work. Focus on the method rather than just the answers. Using concrete representations (like sweets!) or pictures can help make sense of all the symbols. On Maths-Whizz, Mikey can find lots of practice material at his level in Topic Challenge.
If Mikey remains stuck, ask him to talk through what he finds difficult or to show you a particular question he is unsure of. Sometimes just trying to explain/unpick what you don’t understand helps you to overcome barriers!
Once Mikey feels he has grasped simultaneous equations, have him attempt a few exercises, paying attention on the method each time. This will be a great confidence-building exercise.
Finally, it’s always a good idea to let your child’s teacher know of any persistent difficulties. They’ll be only too glad to help.
I hope that helps – much of this advice can be applied to other areas of maths your child might be struggling with.