Supporting Numeracy Skills
Being numerate means having the confidence and skill to use numbers and mathematical approaches in all aspects of life - at work, in practical everyday activities at home and beyond, as consumers, in managing our finances, as parents helping our children learn, as patients making sense of health information, as citizens understanding the world about us.
Numeracy complements literacy and is sometimes called ‘mathematical literacy’. Both skills are needed in order to function fully in modern life. Being numerate means being able to reason with numbers and other mathematical concepts and to apply these in a range of contexts and to solve a variety of problems. Being numerate is as much about thinking and reasoning logically as about 'doing sums'.
It means being able to:
- Interpret data, charts and diagrams
- Process information
- Solve problems
- Check answers
- Understand and explain solutions
- Make decisions based on logical thinking and reasoning.
Numeracy involves skills that are sometimes not adequately learnt in the classroom – the ability to use numbers and solve problems in real life.
Supporting numeracy at home
Learning in numeracy takes place all around us, not just in the classroom
Here are just some ideas how parents and families can help support and develop numeracy skills:
- Cooking or baking: How will we measure how much? Can you read the numbers? Can you help me count the spoons? How many cupcake cases will we need? How long will it take to cook? What time will it be ready? What it we double or halve the recipe? How many will we make? How many cakes will we get each in our family? How many chocolate buttons will we need if we put three on each cake?
- Shopping: How many will we need? How much? Will we have enough from this amount? What shape is this? Which is more or less? Which is bigger? How do we work out 20% off? What will it cost if we buy ten? Which is better value?
- Watching or playing sports – what’s the score now? What if they get two more goals? How much is the black worth? What is treble twenty? How much better have they done than last week? What do these statistics mean? How long is the game? What time will it be at half-time?
- Recycling – how will we sort these? How many? What shape is this? Which is the longest? Can you find me a cylinder?
- Walking or driving to school – How long does it take? How many steps? How many number fours can you spot on the way? What number patterns can we spot? Are these numbers odd or even? What shapes can you spot? What directions are we taking? What would be the time difference if we walked or cycled?
Top tips for parents
- Be positive about maths! Never say things like ‘I can’t do maths’ or ‘I hated maths at school’. Your child might start to think like that themselves.
- Point out the maths in everyday life. Include your child in activities involving numbers and measuring – activities such as shopping, cooking and travelling.
- Praise your child for effort rather than talent. This shows them that by working hard they can always improve.
(Passwords are available from any maths teacher).