How you can help with each Key Stage

During Key Stage 1, your child will be introduced to maths via a ‘hands-on’ approach, using everyday items and objects to work out basic calculations and solve problems. Your child will start to explore adding, subtracting, dividing and multiplying and counting, reading and writing up to 20. They should also begin to recognise odd and even numbers, shapes and maths symbols. They may be able to perform simple mental maths calculations, and will learn about angles, money, measuring and weighing, as well as learning how to tell the time, use money and understand tables and graphs.

There are many ways in which you can help your child with Key Stage 1 maths at home and there are numerous fun activities that you can incorporate into their daily routine. For example, encourage them to count wherever they are; ask them to help you put four tomatoes in the bag at the supermarket, for instance, or count out ten coins. You could even ask them to look at house numbers as you walk along; are they odd or even numbers? Play games that involve numbers such as dominos or cards.

During Key Stage 2 maths, your child should become more confident and accurate at using calculating, mental maths and number systems for adding, subtracting, long multiplication and long division. They will also start to explore fractions, decimal place value, geometry, interpreting statistics, percentages and ratio, handling data, memorising the 12 multiplication tables and using measuring instruments. Your child should also be able to read and spell maths vocabulary confidently and have a grasp on the basic language of algebra.

There are several ways you can help your child with Key Stage 2 maths. Start by making it as fun as possible. For example, it’s much easier to remember words when they’re put to a tune, so create a song to help them remember their times tables. There are also plenty of good quality maths worksheets available online; these are brilliant tools for helping your child practise. You should also practise using mathematical vocabulary yourself around the house – if your child develops their maths vocabulary they will be able to talk about and explain their maths more easily.

Here are some basic algebraic terms that would be useful to brush up on:

Variable- A number within an equation that can vary. In algebra, this is usually represented by an ‘x’ or a ‘y’.

Terms- A term is a smaller problem within a full expression. For example 2y + 4- y would be an expression, and the terms within this would be ‘2y’ and ‘4-y’.

Coefficients- If a term includes variables, then the coefficient would be the number within this term. For example, 2y + 4- y, the coefficient of the first term would be 2, and the coefficient of the second term would be 4. The coefficient will always be 1 if a term contains only variables, such as x + y.

Constants- If a term only contains numbers, and no variables, then it would be considered a constant. That is because its value does not vary. For example, 2y + 4-y / 6, the constant term would be 6.

Rational Numbers- A rational number can always be described as a ratio, and so tends to be whole numbers and fractions. For example, 1/3 can be described as the ratio 1 to 3 and so is a rational number. 7 can be described as the ratio 7 to 1 and so is a rational number. 0.75 can be described as 75/100 or 3/4 and so is a rational number.

Irrational Numbers- The opposite of rational numbers, these are usually decimal numbers that cannot be described as a ratio or fraction. A good example of this is pi, which is incredibly long and does not repeat.

In Key Stage 3, there will be an overlap with other areas such as science and geography, and your child will be expected to have an understanding of how mathematical reasoning can be applied to these subjects. Your child should be able to confidently explain their reasoning behind their problem solving – both verbally and when written down. A scientific calculator will also be required at this stage in order to find out solutions to increasingly complex problems. Your child should be able to use algebra techniques and symbols, fractions, decimals and percentages, ratio, proportion and rates of change, geometry and measures and have an extended knowledge of number systems.

Increase your child’s confidence at this time by asking them to explain their workings-out. Ask them to show you how their scientific calculator works as this will not only increase their confidence in using maths vocabulary, but will also refresh their memory and reinforce what they have been taught in the classroom.

Check out this Youtube video by LearnersCloud that gives a basic run through of the functions of a scientific calculator. The video is aimed at teenagers and so uses language that will be simple to pass onto your child- or you could cut out the middle man and watch the video together.

During Key Stage 4 your child will be placed in a maths set based on their ability. Maths courses vary depending on this set and on what examination board their school is with. However, during Key Stage 4 the majority of teens will learn the following skills, in addition to those already mentioned in the previous Key Stages: interpreting and representing data; range and averages; probability; cumulative frequency; complex calculations and accuracy; estimation and currency conversion; factors, powers and roots; equations and inequalities; formulae; indices and standard form; sequences and proof; linear graphs; quadratic equations; angles and bearings; triangles, polygons and constructions; and further algebra.

While the list seems extensive, and you may find you are unable to find time to brush up on all the concepts yourself, there are still ways in which you can help your teen. Start by ensuring they have a quiet, organised space in which to study; this will be a busy time for them with mock exams, coursework and exams. Let them know you are there if they need you and try to work out the problems together. Encourage them to look at previous worksheet examples as this may reinforce what they need to do. You may find lists online that include all the formula needed for GCSE maths, with interactive examples to show you how it is used.

Here are some basic formulas that would be useful to know when assisting with key stage 4 homework:

The Area of a Rectangle = length x width

The Area of a Triangle = base x perpendicular height / 2

The Area of a Parallelogram = base x height

The Area of a Trapezium = (parallel side a + parallel side b) x height / 2

The Area of a Circle = radius squared x pi

The Circumference of a Circle= diameter x pi

The Surface Area of a Sphere = (radius squared x pi) x 4

The Volume of a Sphere = (radius cubed x pi) x 4 / 3

The Volume of a Cone = work out the area of the circular base (base radius x pi) x perpendicular height / 3

The Volume of a Cuboid = length x width x height

Tips and tricks to help with Maths: a quick guide

- Have a positive outlook to maths, even if it wasn’t your favourite subject at school. Your children are likely to pick up on this approach.
- If you need to contact the teacher to inform them that your child doesn’t understand something, be specific in the information you provide as this will guide the teacher on how they can help.
- Help them to master the basic facts as this will provide a solid groundwork for other maths skills. Test them with flash cards and drills to get them up to speed.
- Use objects to help them solve a problem; a visual aid will often help them understand.
- Encourage your child to redo worksheet examples before starting their homework assignment as this will help them understand the concept.
- Make maths part of their routine and they will soon see how important it is to so many real-life situations. For example, ask them to help you measure ingredients for a cake recipe, pay at the supermarket check-out or plant new flowers a certain distance apart.
- Help them with maths vocabulary; this will help better-prepare them for more complex concepts. Test your child to make sure they understand key terms.
- Teach your child to write clearly and neatly. Writing on graph paper or tracing letters could help improve their number writing.
- Always be on-call should your child need you to refresh their memory or help explain forgotten concepts.

For further information, check out some of our resources on Mathematics

Do you have any tips on how to provide the best support for your childâ€™s Maths homework? Share them in the comments box below.