Ask Brian: My son is struggling with primary school maths. How can I help?
There are some new online resources available linked to the curriculum
My son is in fourth class in our local primary school and is struggling with maths.
My son is in fourth class in our local primary school and is struggling with maths. I help him with his homework, but try not to end up doing the work for him. Are you aware of any maths resources which I could get him to engage with to support the work his teacher is doing in class?
This is an age-old question and one that all parents and teachers face. Trying to manage the learning of your child or in the case of teachers, up to thirty children in a classroom, whose comprehension of maths and other core competencies are varied, is no easy task.
There is a wide range of online content from websites from all over the world available to parents and teachers , supporting the acquisition of mathematical skills by students of all ages.
However, very few are linked to the Irish curriculum, thus making it difficult to marry the work undertaken by the teacher in the classroom with relevant online maths support material which will work effectively alongside parental support at home in the evenings.
As I have stated above, in a classroom of 30 students, a busy teacher is striving to identify and intervene when students are struggling with lessons or strands within lessons. It is the essence of the skill of teaching.
The very basis of all good teaching requires you to be able to assess a student’s knowledge. Unless you do so effectively, you really don’t know who has internalised your lesson and who hasn’t.
There are some maths resources for primary pupils online, such as Scoilnet (www.scoilnet.ie) and the PDST (www.pdst.ie/Mathematics). They are worth checking out, although these are aimed more at teachers.
I recently came across the work of one Irish company, Kildare-based “Achieve Online Learning” (www.aoll.ie), who have developed an online tool to support the teaching of the maths curriculum at primary level. This is aimed specifically at pupils (there may be others, though I’m not aware of them).
It has a section called A+Maths which includes online assessments (automated marking) which produce reports, allowing parents or teachers to understand and assist the student with strand units they may be struggling with, and thus closely monitor the child’s progress.
The programme is designed specifically for students from second to sixth class with lots of maths questions available in both English and Irish.
It is linked directly to the Irish curriculum, written by Irish teachers and each lesson is linked with page references to the Irish maths primary school curriculum.
The programme provides teachers and you as a parent with the tools you need to apply early intervention and assisted learning for your son, using engaging interactive lessons, and is available in both Irish and English.
Significantly, from a school’s perspective, A+ Maths is eligible for funding under the Department of Education digital strategy fund for schools 2019-2020.
If your son’s school doesn’t use the A+Maths software package, the company provides free trial, after which it costs €5 a month.
The Irish version has been partially funded by Foras na Gaeilge and “An Chomhairle um Oideachas Gaeltachta & Gaelscolaíochta” and is one of the very few websites supporting online maths through Irish.
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