My previous article looked at why we learn mathematics and how mathematics helps us develop our brain. In this article I will try to give you a few suggestions about resources to help your more able and less able children find joy in mathematics.
There are many hundreds of resources both online and in print that are available to support students and teachers in studying mathematics. I will not, and, I cannot possibly look at all of these. I will tell you of some things I have found helpful and why.
I have no affiliation with any of these resources, some I have used, and some are those I have heard from others have been helpful.
When looking for online resources you have a choice of websites that teach content using videos, some of which give practical exercises.
Khan Academy – a free video lecture style resource. This will take the student from very basic mathematics through to university level. They also have resources for science and history. The videos can be viewed as stand alone information or part of a course to build skills. It is a fantastic free resource without the high entertainment of some online resources with less rigorous content. https://www.khanacademy.org/math
Maths Online – this is a subscription site which has lots of great reviews. They have a free 2 week trial, if you want to try it before paying. The content is given as lessons and exercises. They also give you a report on your child’s progress as well as worked solutions. I have not personally used this resource but have heard many great reviews. The cost is about $40 per month, or about $300 for a year. https://www.mathsonline.com.au/
Hotmaths is also a very popular platform, similar to Maths Online, where students are provided with extra questions with support from examples. It provides resources that can be used online as well as printable resources. I have encountered it mostly from schools using it as a resource for students but can be used at home according to their website. The at home price is about $80 per year with a free trial offered. https://www.hotmaths.com.au/
You may also look at sites which have lots of practice questions.
IXL Maths – IXL uses questions within specific strands of the curriculum to build skills through drill and practice questions. You can easily move between grade levels and the program will recommend areas to move into for the next level of skill or to backtrack on areas of weakness. It gives motivational certificates as you progress. They offer a free 30 day trial and you can sign up for about $13 per month. I do know of people negotiating lower subscriptions for home school groups. https://au.ixl.com/math/
Mathletics – Mathletics is a resource that offers curriculum based drill and practice questions with rewards such as items to add to an avatar for the student. They offer the teacher (or parent – depending on who owns the subscription) a record of the progress. If you own the subscription you can move your child between class levels manually (it does not do this automatically) although the program does move into more challenging areas if your child chooses those topics. There is a test to complete to “pass” the level. Mathletics also offers a real time fast mental math challenge with other online opponents, where the user can choose the challenge level. The cost of subscription is about $20 per month or $100 for a year with a free trial. https://www.mathletics.com/au/for-home/
Mathspace is a resource offered primarily to schools. This year they are offering a special home product of $30 per student (same rate as schools). They incorporate video lessons, textbooks and practice questions, these can be assigned by the teacher or chosen on topics by the student. https://mathspace.co/au
These are just a few sites that offer course related content, following a curriculum. One thing I have noticed when students use these, they are more likely to skip steps or not write out questions to solve but go as quickly as possible to the “right answer”, especially in multiple choice questions. This is ok to some extent but does not develop skills to explain their method or how they arrived at their result, which is required both in school exams and in real life!
There are plenty of extra worksheets available if you want to work on a particular skill by printing out a worksheet. Some examples I have found helpful are given below.
Math-Aids – allow you to print with or without solutions on many areas of the curriculum. All the worksheets are free. https://www.math-aids.com/
Mathworksheets4kids – provide many worksheets, some for free, others require a membership subscription for about $20 USD per year. You can also print solutions with the worksheets. https://www.mathworksheets4kids.com/math.php
Dad’s Worksheets provide loads of practice questions on each worksheet, if you need to do some extra practice on any specific topic. Great free resource. https://www.dadsworksheets.com/
Teachers Pay Teachers offers content created by teachers which they share usually for a small cost, sometimes for free. These are resources developed by professionals for use in the classroom. If you are looking for some out of the box ideas or games, this is a great resource. Usually content has been reviewed by others which is helpful in choosing. https://www.teacherspayteachers.com/
And sites which offer math practice through online games. One example is given below.
Prodigy – a free game-based way to practice skills. The game monitors your skills and increases or decreases difficulty based on the answers you give. If your child needs a bit of motivation to practice this is very helpful. You can also become a member for extra options at a cost of about $9 per month or $60 per year. https://www.prodigygame.com/main-en/
Story based mathematics resources provides both a context and entertainment when exploring mathematics.
Cyberchase – I first encountered this as a television series which had the characters work through problems and adventures which would require them to use mathematics to solve problems. My children really enjoyed watching this. Available now they have the episodes as well as online games and activities all free. They offer resources for parents and teachers as well. https://pbskids.org/cyberchase/
Odd Squad – this is a television show which has the characters solving mysteries through the use of mathematics. It is a fun way to create a positive mindset about using mathematics for younger children. The website also offers games to play. https://pbskids.org/oddsquad
The Number Devil: A Mathematical Adventure by Hans Magnus Enzensberger (1997)– I first encountered this wonderful novel with my children. Later we also discovered that a game had been developed based on it. The story follows Robert, a boy who hates mathematics who has dreams where he is visited by the Number Devil, who teaches him about the wonderful things to be discovered through number. https://www.goodreads.com/book/show/91358.The_Number_Devil
Murderous Maths – following in the tradition of Horrible Histories this series of books use humour to explore mathematics. http://www.murderousmaths.co.uk/books/books.htm
There are many great curriculum resources and textbooks. You can also go and explore yourself at a local curriculum store (where you buy your school texts), even take your child with you, to find something that is a good fit for extending or supporting your child. A few different ones are given below.
Life of Fred – I have not used these personally but have had many great reviews. These are books used as a home school or curriculum resource to teach mathematical concepts. As described “These books are designed to make your child think and learn on their own. It does not give step-by-step directions and answers to every question. They learn to apply to current questions the concepts previously taught. Upon completion they will understand how math works, why it works, and how to apply it. They will know the formulas and how to apply them in real-life situations, not just situations created for a textbook. This program relies heavily on reading comprehension and thinking, not rote spoon-fed learning that is quickly forgotten. Parents can learn these novel methods along with the student but should not try to integrate the traditional rote/memorization methods.” https://www.lifeoffred.uniquemath.com/
Singapore Maths – is a series of textbooks now supported by video content and online support using the highly regarded approach to teaching mathematics from Singapore. The content does not follow the same sequence of the Australian Curriculum but is very popular among more able home school families. https://www.singaporemath.com/
Associations are available in all states and regions. They usually offer resources for teachers and children as well as journals and competitions to support and extend more able students.
The Australian Mathematics Association provides resources and competitions for children and adults who want to go deeper into Mathematics. You may also choose to subscribe to their journals or purchase resources from their store. https://www.aamt.edu.au/
Mathematical Association of NSW https://www.mansw.nsw.edu.au/
Queensland Association of Mathematics Teachers http://qamt.qld.edu.au/
Mathematical Association of South Australia https://www.masaonline.org.au/
Mathematical Association of Tasmania
Mathematical Association of Victoria https://www.mav.vic.edu.au/
The Mathematical Association of Western Australia https://mawainc.org.au/
Mathematics Teachers’ Association of the Northern Territory http://mtant.weebly.com/
Canberra Mathematical Association http://www.canberramaths.org.au/
Apart from all of these resources, the greatest resource is just having fun together as a family, exploring the world, including patterns and number. One way you can do this is through games that require the use of dice, money, strategy, reasoning, scoring.
Most popular board games will provide these. A packet of cards is great to play many games based on number.
For children who do not yet read well, there are resources for recognising patterns and sequences.
One game I recommend and one that is very popular in my home and amongst gifted children who have attended games nights is a card game called Set. Go and explore your local games store, second-hand store or library to find some fun games to try.
Exposing children to mathematics, like language is important to develop an understanding of the world, to recognise how things interact and work together. Use opportunities as they come up, in cooking, building, shopping, painting etc.
Mathematics can be a fun part of your life and promoting a sense of joy in playing with numbers and patterns will continue to encourage a positive attitude for our great thinkers of the future.