Improving numeracy skills for primary learners

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Numeracy and problem solving are skills we use every day without thinking about what they are. So, it's not difficult to support your foster child in improving their numeracy skills.

Top tips

  • Use your number skills out loud as you go about daily life so your home is a place where children and young people feel comfortable about numbers
  • Help your child budget their pocket money. Let them take responsibility buying for personal things
  • Encourage your child to read a TV programme guide and work out timings
  • Get your child to count out the cutlery drawer or check the fridge to see if there are enough yoghurts for tea
  • Practice estimating and 'guesstimating' -  this works well when out shopping
  • Cook together - let your child weigh out the ingredients, decide on which containers to use, set the time on the oven
  • Play games where your child has to keep score - darts, stop the clock, card games such as 21
  • Solve puzzles together – anything from jigsaws to crosswords

Chunking’, ‘partitioning’ and the ‘grid method’

Schools now expect pupils to become fluent in the fundamentals of mathematics, this means leaning to solve problems and reason mathematically by following a line of enquiry, developing an argument, or proving concepts  using mathematical language.

As a result of this teaching has moved away from the structures many of us learnt at school and the methods you may understand for long division could be very different from the approaches taught to the children in your care. If you’re unsure about these new techniques ask your child’s school or virtual school (in England) for guidance on the methods used and how to support leaning at home.

Homework tips

  • Ask your child to explain to you clearly and simply what they learnt in a specific subject that day, e.g. long division. By doing this, you are making the child organise their ideas and then put them into words in an intelligible way. This is essential for making concepts stick in the brain.
  • Go through your child's exercise books with them and read together the teacher's comments. Discuss what they have to do to improve and how they are going to do it.
  • Check your child's homework with them; help them to spot mistakes and to redraft it if necessary. Discuss with them whether they have made the improvements suggested by their teacher in the last piece of work.
  • Praise them for what they have done well; do not dwell on what they have not done well.
  • Notice gaps, if a child in your care has moved schools or not attended for periods of time they may have missed essential parts of the curriculum. If you notice gaps in their knowledge it is essential you communicate these to the school so appropriate support can be put in place.