Numeracy at Home

Expose your son/daughter to mathematics in everyday life. Children need to learn that we need to be numerate so that we can understand the world in which we live. Maths can be very enjoyable. Practice tables, but remember being able to recall number facts does not necessarily mean your son/daughter has a good sense of number. The key to mathematics understands the need for number, identifying this need and being able to discuss numbers, problems and solutions.

• Play counting games – count forward and backwards
• Count toys as you are putting them away
• Count the number of items you put on the table as you set it for dinner
• Count the number of items in the shopping as you unpack it
• Count the number of steps from the door to the car and then repeat backwards
• Countdown in seconds as you wait for your child to do something / time left doing something
• Play board games that need dice. Use two dice if possible.
• Play the Estimation Game – 2 players & one person to call out the numbers. Call out the two numbers then both players have 5 seconds to estimate an answer. The person calling the numbers checks who had the closer answer, they may use a calculator
• Estimate everything! How long will it take to cook dinner / get dressed / walk to the shop? How much will the bill be / more money do I need? How many potatoes are in the pot / pieces of Lego are in the box etc.
• Find shortcuts to make calculations easier – add through 100, 10, 1.
e.g. 256+139= add the 100’s
356+39= add the 10’s
386+9= add the units
• Use rounding to make calculations easier

e.g. 133+164=
e.g. 298×3=

• Use mathematical language in everyday discussions – more / less than, altogether, split into, approximately, accurately, percent, equals, measurement, scale, group of etc.

• Sort the washing by colour / type as you are folding it or putting it away
• Sort picture books in order of size as you put them on the shelf
• Sort toys by colour, size or type
• Sort food by type in the fridge or press- put the fruit on one shelf, vegetables on another, meat on another etc. Put the canned food together, packets together, jars together etc.

When doing daily tasks show your son/daughter the need for numbers in –
• Weight, Length, Capacity & Area:
o Allow your son/daughter to use tapes, scales etc. to measure lengths, weights and heights. Always estimate first.
o Estimate heights and weights – measure brothers, sisters, mams, dads, grandparents, etc. regularly. Record measurements and calculate differences.
o Baking and cooking – Follow recipes and instructions, weigh out ingredients.
o Select different sized containers to hold different amounts of liquids, foods etc.

o When shopping, saving or planning to spend involve children in making your calculations.
o Calculate/estimate the cost of various items from catalogues and internet. Use a calculator – To check and when problem solving.
o Send older children to the shop to make purchases themselves. Get them to select how much money they will need and how to make it using coins and notes.

o Regularly talk to your son/daughter about time in an informal manner.
o Ensure your son/daughter has a watch.
o Look at T.V schedules, Cinema listings, daily timetables etc. and plan your activities together
o Use a calendar to plan events, record birthdays, etc. Countdown the days, weeks to the event.

• Discuss speeds and distances when travelling.
• Watch for maths and numbers in the everyday environment.

Other Activities
Some family activities lend themselves really well to focusing on numeracy and mathematical activities
• Before going on a long journey, look at a map to consider what route you might take.
• Use Google maps or the AA roadwatch website for example, to compare the length of different routes. Consider the type of roads you will be travelling on, passing Toll Bridges, by-passes around towns etc. in making your decision.
• What direction will you be travelling in?
• Estimate the time your journey will take you and then compare once you arrive at your destination.
• While travelling, count the number of towns you pass through, how many yellow cars you pass, number of roundabouts or traffic lights you pass through for example
• Watch the weather forecast and discuss the temperature, difference between highest and lowest for the day, temperatures in different countries etc.
• What wind speed is expected? Get children to predict if this means it will be calm, windy, stormy etc.
• Look at weather graphs of the weather forecast online – AccuWeather, MetEireann etc. You will find bar graphs of precipitation, temperature etc.

• Look at the catalogues sent out by the supermarket. Select items to compare in terms of value for money in different shops
• Make a shopping list. Use the catalogues to estimate the cost of your shopping. Compare your estimated list to your receipt when you come home.
• Find the actual price of items with % discounts.
• Compare similar items to determine what the best value is for your money. Consider the price in terms of the amount you are getting.
• Develop a sense of expense. Is €100 a lot of money to spend on new runners if I earn €5 in pocket money per week? How long will it take to save for them?
• Look at or develop a family budget. How much do your family spend on food per week / month? How much are your household bills?
Problem Solving
• Discuss the wording of mathematical problems together to determine what is being asked. Underline important information, choose the numbers you need. What operation or operations will you use? Draw a diagram or a picture to help clarify information. Estimate your answer.
• As you problem solve, you may ask some of the following questions:
• What do you need to find?
• What do you know?
• Where did you start?
• What numbers did you use?
• What will you do next?
• Can you draw a picture?
• What do you think the answer will be?
• Discuss their thinking:
• Why did you…?
• What do you think comes next?
• Can you find a pattern?
• Does that make sense?
• What would happen if …?

• Solve real life problems e.g. you are cooking for five people and need three sausages for each. How many is that? You need to be in Dublin at 4p.m. and it will take an hour and a half to get there. What time should you leave at?
• Ask your child how they solved a problem and tell them how you did it – there are many different and correct ways to problem solve!
• Carry out some simple addition, subtraction, multiplication and division problems. However it is more important that children understands these operations rather than just trying to remember a procedure. Try and integrate them into everyday activities.