How to make maths easy for your kids – The power of number bonds


Children playing maths games

Parents often like to work with their kids between weekly sessions of private tuition and/or school to supplement the work of their home tutor and class teacher. At Tutor My Kids, all our private tutors are teachers, so we’re often asked by our parents how to make maths easy for their children.  Firstly Number Bonds:

Number Bonds

Helping your kids to learn their number bonds is a key skill that lays the backbone of future maths learning. Number bonds are 2 (or more) numbers which add together to make another.

E.g. 4+6=10, 7+3=10, 14+6=20.

The common ones are those numbers which add up to 10 and 20. Knowing other combinations such as those that add up to 12, 13, 14, etc. can make maths much quicker for kids, rather than them having to work it out each time. Think how annoying and, more importantly, time wasting it would be to have to look up you PIN on your debit card each time you used it, rather than knowing it by heart.

It is expected that children in reception (foundation) year in the UK will know their number bonds to 20 by the end of their reception year. So much of our systems rely on adding up to 10 – money primarily, but also weight and distance. However, many children, even in secondary schools, still do not know these and it can seriously hold them back. This knowledge is important because it enables pupils to easily work out related facts:

If you know that 6+4=10, you can easily link to 60+40=100, 0.6 +0.4=1, 0.06+0.04=0.1 with little further effort.

Why maths is like a brick wall.

Maths isn’t like a brick wall because it impenetrable for some! Maths is hugely sequential which means that each new learning builds upon the previous work. Good solid foundations make for a solid brick wall of maths knowledge; poor foundations make for a wobbly wall. Number bonds are the foundations of maths wall building – they lay the foundations to quickly and easily work out other number facts. It’s not unusual for secondary school pupils to have gaps in these and other combinations. If your child has a ready knowledge of 6+7=13, 4+5=9 etc, it saves them a huge amount of time – it saves recalculating them each go. Don’t neglect other target numbers, especially for secondary students – time adds up to 60 minutes and 12 or 24 hours, angles to 90, 180 or 360, money to 100.

If you want to make maths easy for your kids, start to practise number bonds!

Here are some ideas to help make this fun! .

Strategy 1 – You can make a number of cards with numbers on them 0-20. Place them face down and play a version of pelmanism (that card game where you turn 2 cards over to see if they match) to see if they make 10. If they do you take those cards away – you’ve scored 1 point . If they don’t you put them back down where they were. Then the other player turns over 2 cards seeing if they can make a 10. Continuing until you can’t make any more bonds. You can move onto 20, and the of course less common combinations.

Strategy 2 – Make number bond jigsaw pieces. Write 2 numbers on piece of card and cut out a jigsaw shape between the 2. If you make a different shaped cut each time, you can ensure that the right numbers will get matched up.

Strategy 3 – Plan ‘snap’ where you ‘snap’ when you get a number bond to 10, 20 or another number.

Strategy 4 – Teach your children cribbage; I played as a child and can always tell you which numbers make 15!

Strategy 5 – Play online – has a great number bonds game that allows you to customise the target number. This site let’s you play with missing numbers too, so 8-?=3, 5+?=11 etc. It can be set to decimals too.

Helping students to be confident at maths is something that our private tutors in Cambridge and surrounding areas do all the time. This confidence starts with having having number facts at quick recall; it speeds up the work and enables students to feel that they’re able to work more quickly and allows children to access more complex material. Teaching children numerateness (Yes, I know this is a made up word – but it fits the bill) means that they have an understanding of number which sets them up for life and further learning.

Tutoring maths is a highly specialised thing, because each child will have gaps in their learning that are unique to the child. One-to-one tuition enables these gaps to be filled thoroughly, effectively and efficiently.

Number bonds are the foundation blocks of your brick wall. You can make maths easy by understanding which bonds your kids can do and fill the gaps with the missing ones. Working out the related facts is the next step. Remember the non standard ones; 13, 17 and those relating to time (60, 12, 24) and angles (90, 180, 360). Then finally, you’re making it easy for your children to excel at maths, to be confident and numerate.

If you would like further information on private tuition in Cambridge, Ely  and the surrounding areas, there’s more information on the Tutor My Kids website here or you can call Rachel Law for a chat on 01223 858421.