My Child Finds Maths Challenging

Lynn Schreiber

Here’s a question from a mum on our Facebook Group

My older daughter (age 8) has, over the course of the last school year, developed a hatred of maths. We think she is capable, but she now panics and often gets very simple things wrong that she used to know. Worse (for us), she kicks off if we try and broach the subject. Part of the problem is, I think, the fact that she is the only girl in her set, and the others can get quite competitive, which she finds difficult. 

The answers from the group were so helpful, we’ve collected and summarised them here for you.

Coordinate with Teacher

The first thing to do is contact the school and see how the teacher feels your child is doing. Make an appointment to see the teacher, and discuss your concerns. Most likely, they will have noticed, and may even be implementing changes to help your child. With some children, moving down a set is seen as a “failure”, but if done sensitively by the teacher, it can help. It might be that by getting away from the more competitive children, the pressure will be lessened.

Short-Term Tutoring

You might not want to go full tilt with tutoring, but a few sessions with a tutor may well be enough to help your child catch up with the class. In a class of 30 kids, the teacher does not have time to go around each child and explain the concept again. One on one tutoring can bridge this gap.

Play Games

There are apps and computer tutoring programmes, but don’t forget the ‘old school’ games. Counting scores on Scrabble, being the banker on Monopoly or a game of Yatzee gives kids the opportunity to practice maths skills without it feeling like homework. Carol suggested

We made silly maths songs and mnemonics for times tables to make them more memorable, like “64’s eight eights” to the tune of “64 zoo lane”, and make patterns with sewing, baking, chalking the paving just to play with numbers and shapes.

Cooking and Sewing

Maths is everywhere! When you cook a meal, you might need to convert a recipe for two into one for four people. Weighing and measuring ingredients, counting how long the meal has to cook, and when to put things into the oven. Make a simple pencil case or phone cover. You need to measure the phone, add a few centimetres for the seam… it’s all “maths” but doesn’t feel like it.

Meal Planning and Shopping

Put your child in charge of one meal a week. Research a recipe, write a shopping list, and buy the ingredients, then cook the meal. You can do this together with younger kids, and let older tweens and teens do this independently.

Computer Programming

Try using Scratch, a fun website that teaches kids to code. As Holly said, “Because it’s problem solving, it improves mathematical skills by stealth“. Check out our articles on Jump! Mag on finding resources to teach kids to code.

Get REALLY Creative

Emily said that she met a maths teacher who

“throws in maths study days and get the kids into groups to design and build a virtual house. Everything has a cost ( e.g a wall = £x) and they have to build it for under £30k. Once they’ve done it they then get to make a model of it as their reward!”

You could perhaps even do this in Minecraft.


Do you have any other ideas for helping a child who finds maths challenging? Join in the discussion not the Facebook Group, or comment below.

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