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Helping my child with Reading and Maths


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Guide to Helping My Child with Maths 

This is a simple step by step guide aimed to help both you, the parent, and your child learn, and clearly understand with confidence, how primary mathematics is taught in schools for the 4 to 8 year old age range.   

sweetcounter educational resources blogFollow us and read our 'bite size' topics, highlighting Maths Key Concepts in our "Guide to Helping my Child with Maths" plus previous helpful tips and information on our primary resources




How do I Teach My Child to Read?

Many parents ask the question, “How do I help my child to learn to read?”
Here is a quick round up of principles and suggestions.
I speak as a teacher of 30 years experience and mother of 2, one of which was dyslexic.

Reading Suggestions

1.   Read, read, read to your child.
2.   Explain any difficult or tricky words, but don’t spoil the story.
3.   Track words with your finger. If you stop reading, can your child finish the sentence? Can they pick out some of the main repeating words in the story?
4.   Praise, praise, praise for any success. Can they guess how a new story may end?
5.   Start reading ‘signs’ when out and about.
6.   Write simple messages for them to read. Hide them where they can easily find them.
7.   Stop and LISTEN – what sounds can they hear? (Coughing, birdsong, traffic etc.) This helps auditory discrimination. For example, it is difficult to hear the difference between ‘f’ and ‘v’ or ‘p’ and ‘b’.
8.   Can your child rhyme? Give them a simple word such as ‘cake’ and see if they can find a rhyme.
9.   Write words in large lower case letters and place on cupboard, fridge etc. Concentrate on lower case sounds of the alphabet a, b, c rather than the names of A, B, C.

10. When your child draws a picture, write (in lower case) exactly the words they say. They will then be able to ‘remember’ it and read it back. Clip together and make books. You can make books such as ‘I can ……..’ Or I can ‘jump’, ‘hop’, ‘clap’ etc.

11. Phonics means sounds. Pick out the first sound of each word, and play I Spy games and collect words that start with the same letter.

12. Point out signs and notices and read them out. They should soon start asking ‘What does this say?”

Principles of Teaching Reading

1.   Despite government intervention, every school and every teacher have their own interpretation of Government guidelines.
2.   Every decade the Government has a new IN suggestion.
3.   Synthetic phonics is the latest government IN. This is splitting all words down to a phonic/sound approach. These sounds are called phonemes. Thus f l a g, /  t r a p. Some sounds need two letters such as ch, sh, th, words and ee, ea sounds. These are called digraphs. 
This PHONIC APPROACH was totally out of favour with the government just a few years ago. Teachers have always used phonics, especially to break down new, unknown words. Rather than f  l  a  g, ‘chunking’ was widely used so ‘fl’ or ‘br’ were chunked together.
4.   Apart from a phonic approach, children see words as a whole, so the see the word ‘look’ and can recognize it from the shape of the word. Draw little pictures on the word, e.g. eyes in the ‘oo’. The dog has an ‘ear – ‘d’ and a tail ‘g’. This approach is known as the ‘WHOLE WORD ’ or ‘LOOK AND SAY’ approach. This was the IN approach during the 70’s. It is still used, and High Frequency words are often taught using flashcards. Cards with words clearly shown to be ‘flashed’ in front of the child for them to identify.
5.   ‘REAL BOOKS’ approach was very popular with the Government in the 80’s. It is still used today. Children and parents read together and children will automatically and magically learn to read. Many children do. Many children do not.
6.   When ‘real books’ approach was introduced, READING SCHEME BOOKS were reorganized. Scheme books were graded to a level of difficulty. The books built up stories gradually introducing new words. From experience, children advance swiftly, but are unable or lack confidence with books, OTHER than the scheme books.
7.   CHILDREN LEARN IN DIFFERENT WAYS. Some children have strong auditory and phonic skills, whereas some children have strong visual skills.
8.   Most teachers agree that to teach children to read. A MIXTURE OF APPROACHES IS REQUIRED.
9.    It is usually EASY to teach a child to read – decode text, ‘bark’ at print, sound words out etc. It is HARD to teach a child to READ WELL.


How do I Teach My Child Maths?

Guide to Helping my Child with Maths

A simple step by step guide to assist Parents in helping their child to learn and clearly understand mathematics. 

Parents want to know "How can I help my child with Maths?" They are worried that it is different from their own experience, and it is 'different' nowadays, and they might do the wrong thing.

See our How Can I Help My Child with Maths? Case Study Video for useful tips when using Sweet Counter resources to help your child understand maths in a fun and enjoyable way.

Mathematics is all around us

It is not just for numeracy hours or for ticks and crosses in maths books. It is an essential every day skill that requires confidence and application. Children need to establish sound early mathematical concepts so that a firm foundation is formed. Once children have these concepts secure in their understanding they can build mathematics skills with confidence.
To develop this mathematical confidence children need to experience concepts at first hand. A concept means ‘understanding’ and seeing ‘connections’. As children grow and develop language skills they can similarly develop numeric confidence. Counting is a natural starting point, but saying the number words, one, two, three, four, five, does not explain the ‘meaning of number’. E.g. Counting means ‘1:1’ matching, and ‘making 1 more’. With larger numbers we enter the realm of ‘ordering’ and the 0 to 9 digit repeat. Place Value
refers to the ‘value’ of the digit in the place it stands. Thus 1 can be 1 unit, 1 ten, or 1 hundred and this concept underpins our number system, money and decimalisation. 
The language of Mathematics is often an area taken for granted, but many children do not understand words such as ‘difference’, ‘product’, ‘less or fewer than’. Often when children are asked if they understand a sum or concept they will try to agree and say they do. If questioned it is obvious that they do not. One can always tell if there is understanding as their eyes will act as ‘windows’ to their understanding. 
Mathematics is an abstract discipline but during the early stages, one can visually explain many of the concepts with everyday objects found within most homes. Setting the table is the ideal time for 1:1 matching with knives, forks, plates and glasses. E.G. ‘How many more glasses do we need?’ Bath time with plastic shampoo bottles explains capacity. Look inside your child’s lunch box and grams, millilitres, shapes and quantities are all inside. Sweet Counter provides a range of card resources sold directly to schools and these are available in smaller sets for parents and children to use at home. Most children enjoy learning, but as parents often find out they do not appreciate being ‘told’ how things work by their own parents. Children will ‘play’ with the cards and ‘learn’ without realising.  

How do I Teach My Child Multiplication?

Does your child need help with multiplication?  Learning their tables is difficult?  Multiplication is particularly difficult as it relies so heavily on memory. It is important that children understand the concept of 'continuous addition', so 3 x 6 is three sets of 6 or 6 + 6 + 6. We have Train Times  as a product to illustrate this. Our Multiplication Rainbow is revolutionary. It takes all the multiples (answers to the tables) and displays them in a simple rainbow arch, so that 6 x 4 can be seen vertically and horizontally as 4x6. Use everyday objects to help your child with multiplication. Follow our Blog for tips and great ideas for all areas of the curriculum.
Our parent book sets out to inform parents of the basic concepts their child will be encountering in the school situation.
Once adults are aware of these concepts there are many informal opportunities for adults to work on mathematical concepts without the child even realising.  
  • Look for odd and even numbers on doors.
  • Adding digits on number plates during car journeys.
  • For more formal moments there are checkpoints to ascertain if the child has understood a particular area.
  • Many of the checkpoints allow space for children to complete their answer. 
  • Working out is an essential part of the mathematical ‘process’, and will be awarded marks for correct ‘thoughts’ and ‘explanations’.
  • Try to ask your child, “How did you do that?” It may be a totally different way to your own. 
  • Always be as positive as possible, especially if you personally had a negative experience with maths at school.
  • Maths can be enjoyable, explained practically and is certainly a life skill that needs to be mastered.
  • Yes you can use a calculator, but you need to understand the processes to use correctly.
  • Try doing a row of sums with a calculator versus someone doing them in their head, and if they are fairly simple sums, the ‘mental mathematician’ will win.
  • Enjoy and remember MATHS IS ALL AROUND YOU!




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