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These handy tips will help develop your child's maths skills (without them knowing it)

Fun ways to make maths count without it being a chore.

Dr Pamela Moffett from Stranmillis University College (a Maths Week partner) is a self-confessed maths enthusiast keen to stimulate parents and children to have fun with maths.

She’s compiled a top tips list demonstrating how to develop your child’s maths skills using everyday activities, but shh… you don’t need to say they are all about sums!


Sorting - provides opportunities for children to explore objects and observe their similarities and differences. Together try sorting clothes after washing, cutlery at mealtimes.

Matching items - an important skill in learning to count. Pair socks, lids and saucepans, a biscuit for each teddy.

Stories, rhymes and songs - great opportunities to explore number and counting and other mathematical ideas such as sequencing, size and quantity, shape and space. ‘One, two, three, four, five, once I caught a fish alive’ for counting forwards and ‘Five little ducks went swimming one day’ for counting backwards. ‘The Very Hungry Caterpillar’ for days of the week and ‘Where’s Spot?’ for position.

Waterstones / YouTube

Using real-life experiences helps to make learning enjoyable and meaningful and enables children to appreciate the value of mathematics in everyday life.

Primary School

Shopping experiences - handling small amounts of money, selecting coins to pay for goods, checking change, saving pocket money to buy a treat.

Time - ordering and sequencing events getting dressed and going to bed, talking about significant times eg. lunchtime, bedtime and special dates like birthdays, recording events on a calendar or diary, reading the time on analogue clocks.

Mathematics outdoors - spot car number plates for odd and even numbers, spot patterns in bricks or windows, shapes in road signs, or buildings, count everything!

Develop financial capability - work out special offers eg, half price, 20% off, three for the price of two, best buys single or in packs. Prioritise needs and wants for saving and spending and planning ahead. Discuss foreign currency.

money money

Time and distance - read analogue and digital clocks, timetables for 24 hour times, try calculations involving the passage of time eg. A journey takes 2 1⁄2 hours so when will we arrive?

Everyday maths at home – measure ingredients for a recipe, read nutritional information on food packaging, look up weather details before a holiday.

  • The ninth annual Maths Week Ireland 2014 kicks off today, running until Sunday 19 October.
  • Highlights during the week include a talk at 3pm on Tuesday, 14 October in the National Gallery called “The Many Minds and Dimensions of Salvador Dali” – when renowned mathematician Tom Banchoff will recount how he and the artist tried to make sense of higher dimensions.
  • Maths Week Ireland is co-ordinated by Calmast at Waterford Institute of Technology and is a partnership among over 50 institutions and groups who are committed to promoting an interest in maths. Find out more at, Twitter @mathsweek

Dr Pamela Moffett
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