When I was a Kiddiewink, my mum made the tooth fairy a really special affair. Initially I just had a special cushion with a special pocket and poem embroidered. Then a few of my school friends got a special note from their tooth fairy, I remember feeling sad my fairy didn’t love me enough to write me a note! Magically, a little gold card appeared through the post, with red swirly writing on it. My fairy introduced herself as the Poppy fairy, it was so exciting!
With Kiddiewink 1 waiting until she was 6 and bit before she lost one, I wanted to recreate the magic for her. Being a disorganised mummy, I had failed to get everything in in advance (numpty given I had so long!) So we cobbled a special box together- her love heart tin… Tiptoeing in once she was asleep, I scattered silver stars on her bed and windowsill, and in the tin with a £2 coin! Luckily I found these at the last minute! Needless to say she was chuffed to bits, so chuffed she spent lots of time over the next few weeks making rooms and chill out zones for the tooth fairy out of Lego!
When tooth two was lost, she wrote the tooth fairy a letter asking her name
Cue some swirly writing of my own and the big decision, the tooth fairies name… This time I scattered stars on her Lego and put her letter back in her tin with a shiny £1.
This time she woke coughing at 2am and checked her tin, I was awoken by coughing then exciting squealing; followed by lots of excited wake up calls to her brother! Fortunately I got there before he was disturbed and made the required fuss!
The letter made a trip to school the next day with a chuffed little lady!
As teachers, we can help motivate and inspire the mind. We can foster a life long love of learning. We can teach knowledge and skills, care and nurture, but we cannot do it in isolation.
In 2008 a lot of research was done into the teaching and learning of mathematics (PeterWilliams report), one of their findings was that it is believed that a positive attitude to mathematics was a big stumbling block. One of my lecturers at university back in 1998 had said the same. I remember him saying how it really wasn’t cool to study maths and even less cool to lecture in maths. He joked that at dinner parties, when he told people what he did, it often provoked either awkward silences or a response of utter shock that anybody in their right mind would study mathematics after school. They were useless/rubbish at mathematics, hated mathematics etc.
Hands up if when faced with a maths related question, you feel a panic deep inside and instantly worry about looking stupid? This is still the case amongst my peers, people are quick to proclaim their rubbishness at mathematics, it is socially acceptable. To declare you were rubbish at reading, would attach a bit more of a stigma…
In literacy, reading in particular, once you have learnt the phonetics and patterns, the skill will rarely be lost. Unfortunately, in mathematics this is not the case; if not practised regularly, even basic mathematics can be difficult. 9+7, double 8, 7 x 8, 64/ 8 , 123 x 5… Without the recall of number facts such as number bonds, multiplication and division facts; the world of mathematics is a scary place.
That is why I ask you as parents, please help us produce mini Mathmagicians.
I don’t mean extra homework as I honestly don’t believe that is the way for many children. Instead, they need to want to learn. Make it fun, slip it into everyday activities, make it frequent and in short bursts. Make it a non stressful, no pressure environment. Where mistakes and misconceptions discussed and learnt from, a mistake is nothing to fear or get upset about.
Ten Top Tips for helping your child be a Mathmagician
1) Help them grasp the basics- pairs of numbers which make 10, 100 and in KS2 pairs which make 1 is additional.
Multiplication and division facts- regularly but for short bursts.
Reading and writing numbers
2) Play Bingo as a family- six squares with a number in each and either multiples of… Or pairs which make. Shape names etc. Bingo caller asks a question, if children have the answer, they cross it off. If playing with siblings you can always use a multiplication grid or similar to support the younger.
Eg 6 x 4 (children cross of 24), shape with 4 equal sides (cross of square)- pairs to 100( you say 30, child crosses off 70) etc
3) ‘Talk mathematics’ everyday with your child. On the journey to school or a granny’s Ask them quick recall questions (such as 6x 4, pairs to make 10/100). what shapes can you see? Reading numbers on labels, discussing weights and quantities.
4) ask them word problems linked to your shopping, menus in cafes etc
Mathematics shed has lots of links for all areas of mathematics (can be annoyingly slow to load at times though). Although a lot of the resources are designed for classroom use, there is no reason it can’t be used for home. There are some great raps and song videos to help to learn key facts, games, puzzles, downloadable resources. (I printed a brilliant frozen multiplication mat for my little girl)
6) Get a copy of the school’s calculation policy, read it and ask them if you don’t understand anything; teachers won’t bite. This is important for consistency of approach.
7) Get a copy of maths for mums and dads
8) Whenever having fun as a family with maths, don’t move too quickly. It is far better to get them happy and confident with something first; self esteem is key. Keep this high and your child will flourish. (Try not to inadvertently make it acceptable to be ‘rubbish’ at maths).
9) let them play with maths, explore weight,capacities, calculations with their toys, drawings to represent calculations, arrays for multiplication(basically dots and crosses in rows and columns) talking things through, using a 100sq, charts etc. Playing with apparatus can really help them fully grasp principles.
10) Keep it fun! Make maths a part of everyday with nothing to fear, only learn from.
multiplication and division facts ideas.
chanting in funny voices
displaying those that always trip them up in prominent places and bright colours
writing/typing the facts in lots of different fonts and colours.
Making mini card games( fact on one side, answer on another- how many can they get right in a minute?
Fact and answer cards and play memory
Teaching the Time
General everyday discussion. sharing the time eg Its half six now, time for your bath. What time do we have lunch?
Make a paper plate clock- start getting them to make O’clocks, half pasts etc.
All of the above are just a selection of ideas you may find effective at home but remember, even when they appear to know all the facts, keep revisiting them as just because they can do them in Year three, it doesn’t mean they will remember them in Year five. More resources and ideas will be coming up in the future…
Kiddiewink 1 wants to be a teacher like her mummy, although I am sure that will change.
Kiddiewink 2 wants to be a deep sea diver, and has done for two years now! He is a keen swimmer and mainly swims with his head under water, he sometimes stops and it looks like he is drowning! When you try and ‘rescue’ him, he bats you away, insisting he is trying to see the interesting things on the bottom! Bless his little cotton socks, imagine the excitement when he gets his prescription goggles and he can actually see the bottom clearly!
Today is book day at pre school….. No surprises there, once again he is the deep sea diver from Tiddler. Bad mummy didn’t think though, I should have fashioned an oxygen pack using bottles, oh well there is always next time. He took a mermaid costume in his bag ‘in case I get bored of being a diver ‘ (also from tiddler). He even put on his turtle patch….
When I began baby signing with my eldest kiddiewink, lots of people around me were sceptical…” Wouldn’t it stop them talking because they won’t need to talk?” “What’s the point?” ” you can sing to them at home and youtube signs” My mum in particular was dubious, as was my hubby. But hubby changed his view when he saw kiddiewink 1 signing for the first time.
There are lots of baby signing classes about, but I loved my free trial of Tiny talk and when kiddiewink 1 was about two months old we started a Tiny Talk. We continued until she was about 2.5 years old (toddler class), I continued for a bit longer with her than I might have done, but there was no space for kiddiewink2 in the baby class, so he also joined in with the songs, usually with kiddiewink1 singing them with him. Very cute.
Tiny talk was my favourite and I am excited about starting with kiddiewink 3 in September.
Tiny talk,when we went, was a mixture of singing, instruments and story time. All included learning different signs. Now I believe there is also a fun sensory element. Kiddiewink 1 learnt the sign for more and milk by 4 months and quickly learnt other words, she enjoyed using them to communicate and as an adult, you say the word as well as signing, so it really does reinforce the spoken word too. The classes had a lovely friendly relaxed feel, with free play and snacks for the last twenty minutes or so. It was the only class I have ever done where you feel like your child and the experience is more than just a number through the door. Jenny the teacher is amazing and genuinely wants to get to know all the babies and toddlers.
One particular time signing came in handy, was when kiddiewink 1 was 9 months, she woke screaming at about midnight. She had not needed a milk feed at this time since about five months, so we just cuddled, checked nappy and put back to bed. She just kept screaming even when we got her back out and cuddled her. Then I noticed she was doing the more sign repeatedly with her hands. We made her an 8oz bottle, she downed the lot and went straight back to sleep. Without that means of communication, she would have definitely had a bit more upset before we tried a bottle.
At six months, she would do the doggy sign when at my mums and she very quickly learnt ‘daddy’ and used it to tell me she was missing him. One day at about 7 months she came over whimpering and did the daddy sign, I told her and signed back with ‘daddy’s at work’, she then stopped whimpering and went back to playing.
Baby signing is well worth doing even if you just do a few signs, I bought the packs to continue with kiddiewink 2 at home, but tended to just use the ones I had learnt in class. Seeing them communicate at such a young age is fascinating and enlightening, and probably saves a few tears and tantrums along the way.
I just love it when children don’t stop talking, KW2 is at the stage now where if he is not talking to someone, he is talking to himself!
Today, while sat having a poo, I could hear him saying to himself…
“Nice job fixing the toilet dad, nice job”
While riding his bike yesterday, I could hear him chanting to himself on the way back from a friends…
“You can do it Alfie, keep pedalling, come on, you can do it.”
When the back was going quickly down a hill, he was saying
“Calm down bike, calm down”
He just has me in fits of laughter all the time, pretty sure he takes after me, given at the supermarket child free yesterday, I heard myself saying,
“Let’s get tomatoes Pops, ooh I wonder what else we need”
I must have looked crazy, it’s just I am so used to talking to the children, I forget I am alone!