How to incorporate maths into your child’s everyday life

It’s Maths Week from 9-14th November this year. The purpose is to promote the message that maths is enjoyable and that it’s embedded in every single person’s life.

Some people believe (perhaps due to negative experiences at school) that maths is difficult and boring, but the truth is the very opposite. Maths is everywhere and we use it all the time – we can’t escape it.

Here we look at how you can use everyday opportunities to extend your child’s maths skills and have some fun!

Board Games

Most board games involve counting and other maths skills. Traditional games like Snakes & Ladders, Ludo and Monopoly all involve maths. Some games are designed specifically with maths skills in mind. Orchard Toys make several games: Magic Maths, Mammoth Maths, and Times Table Heroes.

Building

If your child likes building with blocks or Lego maths can easily be incorporated. They can count out blocks as they build. Lego blocks have different numbers of studs and these are great for times tables practice. For example, blocks with two studs can be used for counting in twos etc. 

Children can use rulers or tape measures to measure the heights and widths of their models. You could ask, ‘Which part is taller/shorter?’ and ‘What’s the difference between the two measurements?’

Maths is all about patterns. Children can make Lego models with repeating patterns, e.g. two red blocks, one blue block, three green blocks, two red blocks, one blue block, three green blocks…

For more ideas read, Questions in block play can support mathematical learning.

Cooking

Cooking and baking provide plenty of maths opportunities. Children can weigh, measure and count out ingredients and use an oven timer. They will begin to understand how long 25 minutes is, if that’s how long their cake takes to bake.

Develop maths skills and language by giving instructions and asking questions such as:

How much more flour do we need to measure out?

Please put four tablespoons of golden syrup into the bowl.

Can you put in a little bit more/less sugar?

Can you measure out 50ml of milk?

Can you count out five chocolate buttons for each cake?

Can you put the oven timer on for 25 minutes?

How many minutes are left on the oven timer?

Crafts

Crafts usually involve maths, whether it’s measuring, counting, fractions (halving, quartering) or playing with shapes. As an example see this Christmas tree card craft.

For practicing measuring and problem solving, sewing is brilliant. See 10 best sewing projects to make with kids for ideas.

Shopping

Children can pay for items in a real shop (or play ‘shops’) so they learn the value of different coins. For example, if something costs 10p they can pay with 2 x 5p, 1 x 10p, 10 x 1p and so on. They can add different shop items together and calculate change.

Older children can work out discounts. For example, how much money will they pay for an item with 10% or 50% off?

Singing

Young children learn counting, addition and subtraction through nursery rhymes, especially those with actions. Think about 5 Current Buns and 10 Green Bottles. The BBC schools website has plenty of ideas.

Older children can learn times tables through songs. You can purchase songs or listen to free versions on YouTube.

Time

For young children the first step is to understand the concept of time – how long is a minute? Five minutes? An hour? Say, ‘It’s ten minutes until we go to the park’ (you could set an oven timer or turn a sand timer to show ten minutes). Play games – ‘How many times can you jump on the trampoline in one minute?’ and time your child or count the seconds, ‘One potato…two potato…etc’.

If you are going to school at nine o’clock draw their attention to the hour and minute hand on the clock. Read stories about telling the time such as What Time Is It, Mr Crocodile? by Judy Sierra.  Play board games like ‘What’s the Time Mr Wolf’ and ‘Telling the Time’ by Orchard Toys.

Weather

Children can record temperatures and make graphs or bar charts to record different temperatures each week or each day. You might ask ‘What was the warmest/coolest day?’ and ‘How much warmer/cooler was it?’

You could make a rain gauge together so children can measure the amount of rain that falls and compare different days. Ask, ‘How many centimetres of rain fell today?’ ‘What’s the difference in centimetres between the wettest and the driest day?’ ‘How much rain has fallen in total so far?’

Would your child benefit from extra maths support?

TutorMyKids maths tutors have the ability to make maths applicable to children’s lives by drawing upon real life situations. They also help children to make connections by building on skills previously learnt, and by checking that children have understood concepts rather than simply memorised.

Our tutors adjust their teaching strategies to suit each individual child’s needs and learning styles. Their aim is for children to feel motivated and to have the confidence they need to succeed.

To talk about how we can help your child email hello@tutormykids.co.uk or telephone 01223 858 421.

Fun ways to teach your child where their food comes from

World Food Day is celebrated on 16th October every year, even in these unprecedented times. The aim is to raise awareness that everybody – food producers and consumers alike – have an important role to play to ensure nutritious food is available to everyone across the world.

As consumers we can influence what food is produced by making healthy, sustainable choices. To learn about how our daily choices can have a positive impact visit the United Nation’s World Food Day website.

For children, the first step in making the best choices is understanding where their food comes from. Advances in technology mean that with every generation we become further and further removed from the source of our food.

Here we share some enjoyable ways to teach your child how food gets from farm to fork.

Grow your own fruit and vegetables

Children love sowing seeds, looking after plants and eating what they have grown themselves.

To begin with choose food that is quick and easy to grow such as herbs see ‘How to make a herb garden’. Once interest is sparked your child could grow courgettes (these are very easy to grow), tomatoes, mange tout, green beans, butternut squash, strawberries and raspberries. Even in autumn and winter there is plenty to grow!

Involve your child in picking and preparing their fruit and vegetables. They could make a pizza from home grown tomatoes and basil, or pies and smoothies from strawberries and raspberries. Your child might eat some of their produce straight from the plant or in a salad.

Pick your own

This is an activity to save until late summer. Pick blackberries – remembering not to pick blackberries from near roadsides or near to the ground. Apart from blackberry crumbles and pies your child could make summer pudding, ice cream, jelly and sorbet or eat blackberries as they are. There are lots of recipes online.

Pick-your-own farms are a fun and cheap day out. You can pick strawberries, raspberries, gooseberries, redcurrants and more – depending upon your closest farm. Type ‘nearest pick your own fruit’ into Google.

Read food books

There are some fantastic books that spark children’s interest in the connection between nature and food, and the importance of healthy eating.  These are our favourites:

How Did That Get in My Lunchbox: The Story of Food by Chris Butterworth

Looking at all the food in a child’s lunchbox and how it got there. Where did the chocolate in the biscuit come from? Who made the bread for the sandwich? This book looks at the steps involved in producing some foods e.g. planting wheat and mixing flour into dough to make bread. There are also healthy eating tips and an introduction to food groups is included.

I don’t Like Salad! by Tony Ross

The Little Princess does not like salad, especially tomatoes. She changes her mind when she is given some tomato seeds to grow and sees the first shoots appear.

Pancakes, Pancakes! by Eric Carle

Jack wakes up very hungry – he wants a pancake! But first his mother needs flour from the mill, an egg from the hen, milk from the cow, butter churned from cream and firewood for the stove. Will Jack help his mother and get his pancake?

See Inside: Where Food Comes From by Emily Bone and Peter Allen

Children lift flaps to find out what food is produced in greenhouses, on farms and in the sea. There is a map with flaps showing where chocolate, tea and other things we enjoy come from. Children discover the importance of corn, rice and wheat around the world.

Encourage your child to look at the labels on the food they eat to see where is has come from. They could find places on a world map and use the internet to research the journey their food has had from source to plate.

Visit farm shops or markets with your child to find out what is seasonal and talk to them about what ‘seasonal’ and ‘sustainable’ mean.  The World Food Day website is a great source of information.

Visit a Farm

Whether you visit a city farm or a farm in the country this is a great way to show your child where their food comes from. Some farms allow children to feed lambs, collect eggs, stroke sheep and even to see cows being milked and cheese being made.

There are farms that offer overnight stays so children can really experience life on a working farm. It is also worth keeping an eye out for farm open days near you.

One-to-one science tuition

Is your child interested in science and nature? Our experienced science tutors build on children’s enthusiasm introducing them to many areas of science in an engaging, hands-on and creative way, motivating them to pursue sciences throughout school and beyond.

If your child isn’t enthusiastic about science at school and finds a particular area challenging we can also help. Our tutors tailor their teaching to individual children’s needs, making sure learning is both fun and relevant to them.

To find out more please contact us on: 01223 858 421/hello@tutormykids.co.uk

Can apps really help children learn to read?

There are many different reading apps on the market today, but are they an effective and safe way for children to learn to read?

In today’s blog we look at the pros and cons of reading apps and share our pick of the best.

Advantages of reading apps

  • In a study of children aged 4-5 years Flewitt et al (2015) reported that: ‘children’s motivation to succeed in iPad activities sometimes led them to display more advanced literacy skills than staff had previously given them credit for. For example, the reception class teacher was ‘blown away’ by the quality of some children’s iPad work… iPad-based literacy activities stimulated children’s motivation and concentration.’
  • Reading apps encourage children to engage with texts through games, puzzles, treasure hunts and other activities. Children have fun and are therefore motivated to learn.
  • Children can choose from a variety of fiction and non-fiction at the tap of a button. They might read classic fairytales, twists on classic fairytales, fables, short stories, travel logs, joke books, books on science and nature – it is all at their fingertips. Children can choose genres that match their interests.
  • Reading apps are convenient. They help to ensure that children read every day no matter how busy the family schedule.

Disadvantages of reading apps

Reading apps should not replace human interaction. Oral language skills are the foundation for young children’s reading and language comprehension. Parents should still read with their children and to their children daily if they possibly can and not consider apps as a replacement. In this way parents can help their children to understand what they are reading, answer their questions and extend their vocabulary.

Too much screen time can cause eyestrain (possibly even near-sightedness), dry eyes (we blink less when reading from a screen), neck pain and poor posture. Eyes become more tired than when reading print books because digital text and images are made from ‘pixels’ – tiny pieces that make our eyes work harder.

Reducing the brightness on screens can help to reduce eyestrain. E-readers (such as the Kindle) have a display that is more like ink on printed paper and this reduces eyestrain, but children’s reading apps are often used on smartphones and tablets rather than e-readers.

Both children and adults should not spend time in front of any screen for hours on end without a break.

Our pick of the best reading apps

When used as a complement to print books and not for extended lengths of time, reading apps are a valuable way of motivating children to read. However, there are so many apps available that it can be difficult to choose, so here is our pick of the best.

  1. Reading Eggs

Suitable for children aged 2-13 years, Reading Eggs supports children through guided reading tasks, activities and e-books. The app starts with phonics and tricky words moving on to building vocabulary and developing reading comprehension skills. Over 2,500 e-books are included.

2. Teach Your Monster to Read

Children create a monster and then take it on a series of adventure games that covers phonic phase two to phonics phase 5 (roughly children aged 3-6 years). There are short e-books for children to enjoy too. This app was nominated for a BAFTA.

3. Reading Raven

Children read, recognise and trace letters in order to build words and sentences. Reading Raven is a multi-sensory approach to reading that also develops listening skills and hand-eye coordination. The app is aimed at children aged 3-7 years.

4. Montessori Preschool

Although this isn’t just a reading app we’ve decided to include it here because it is brilliant for young children who might miss out on education this year due to lockdown. The app teaches children everything from phonics and maths to music and early coding skills.

5. Epic!

This is a digital library containing over 25,000 books including bestselling titles and National Geographic non-fiction books. You can create a profile for your child inputting their age and the categories of books they like (pets, sport, adventure etc). Children collect badges as rewards for progress and they can review titles for others when they’ve finished reading. Suitable for young children up to teens.

Does your child need extra reading support?

TutorMyKids’ English tutors have helped many children to overcome difficulties with reading. It is our aim to boost children’s confidence and to instil a love of reading that will last a lifetime. We provide engaging one-to-one tuition that is sensitive to every child’s needs.

Whether your child just needs a little bit of extra help or you are concerned that they have fallen significantly behind their peers, please get in touch with us today: 01223 858 421/hello@tutormykids.co.uk

How COVID has changed homeschooling.

Over the last 2 or 3 months, I’ve had a number of conversations with parents who have or who are considering homeschooling their children. It feels like there’s been a sea change in people’s thinking and acting upon those thoughts, since we’ve been living with COVID-19.

The parents that I’ve spoken to recently cite the following as influences to their thinking:

  • Shielding a member of the family
  • The improved mental health of their child during lock-down.
  • Change of lifestyle – combining education with travelling.
  • A desire for education that suits the needs of their child better.
  • To study a curriculum that is better focused on their child’s needs and career aspirations.

There are many issues to be considered, not least of which whether it would suit you! Many parents have decided that it’s certainly not within their skill-set and are delighted that schools are re-opened! Take a look at the Pros and Cons of homeschooling – it makes an interesting read, discussing capabilities as well as aptitude.

How Tutor My Kids can help.

The majority of our teachers are qualified teachers who understand the UK curriculum and requirement of the various exam boards. We can tailor a package of help that suits your child and your skills. You may be absolutely comfortable tutoring GCSE English and the humanities, but want to supplement that with a tutor for GCSE maths, for example. It may be an understanding of the exam marking schemes that leave you feeling a bit uncomfortable – are you advising your child well so they can get all the marks that are available to them? For example, the use of specific appropriate scientific vocabulary in the GCSE science exams can make a significant difference in the marks and consequently the grade awarded.

Online teaching has been a complete game changer.

Before lock-down, I’d been very reticent about online teaching feeling that it was of a lesser quality to the gold-standard of face-to-face tuition. However, I’ve found myself completely sold on this new way or working. Take a look at our other blog – Online tuition has been a complete game-changer.

Online tuition is enabling us to help out those families who are shielding, whilst still providing fully qualified teachers to deliver a bespoke curriculum for their family.

For families that are able to work remotely or want a change of lifestyle, our tutors are able to offer a first-class education to families whilst they travel and/or work in multiple locations.

Please feel free to take a look at our For Parents page and our testimonials for more information.