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Teachers' tricks for KS2 maths

Teachers' tricks for KS2 maths
Is your child struggling with KS2 maths? Help them learn effectively and boost their number confidence in Year 3, 4, 5 and 6 with some useful calculation strategies and tips from primary teacher Phoebe Doyle.

Times tables tricks

Times tables are just so tricky (not to mention tedious) to learn, but they really are essential building blocks for much of later maths. Thankfully, some of the tables lend well to some useful tricks that, once learned, making knowing them easy peasy.

4 times table trick
Double the number, double again – voila!

5 times table trick 
Multiply the number by 10 instead of 5, then halve your answer.

9 times table trick
Hold both hands up in front of you. Whatever you’re multiplying by (for example 9), hold down that finger (starting from your left hand, so finger 9 is your right ring finger). The fingers to the left of the bent finger are the tens (in this case 80), and the fingers to the right the units (in this case 1; 9 x 9 = 81).

12 times table trick
The answer is 10x plus 2x.

All times tables
Make up rhymes and mnemonics, for example: Eight times eight fell on the floor, picked it up it's sixty four.

Use what you know to help with what you don’t:

Teachers tell children this from Year 1 onwards, but it’s really important to remember it, even when doing maths at secondary school (and beyond). When working with numbers there are often patterns to be found which can really help you to work out calculations.

For example: 2.30 + 5.70

  • Note the number bond to 10 in the decimals, so that makes 1
  • Add 1 to the two whole numbers: 2 + 5 +1 = 8

Checking answers – does that look right?

When you’ve completed a calculation, take a moment to look at it and the answer. Ask, does that look right?

For example, if you were multiplying a whole number by 6300, the number is going to be large and, as long as the whole number is not 1, bigger than 6300. You can also help to check answers by getting into the habit of doing rough calculations prior to completing the answer and seeing if they are approximately right or by using the inverse operation (so addition to check subtraction and vice versa and multiplication to check division).

Mental maths stress-busters

This area od maths can prove extremely stressful, as it’s often done timed. Remember:

  • Focus on the numbers.
  • Listen to which calculation is required.
  • You can usually ignore the rest!

Teachers’ maths test tips

  1. Don’t get stressed about tests – the stress will stop your brain from working! This is your opportunity to show off and a chance for your teachers to understand what you need to learn more about.
  2. Take your time, never rush – if you have some spare time at the end, go back, attempt any questions you’ve missed and check all your answers.
  3. If you’re stuck on a question, move on and come back to it if you have time at the end.
  4. Be aware of the time, and if needed ask how much longer you have left. This will help you make sure you don’t run out of time when you still have lots of questions to complete.
  5. If you don’t understand, ask – in some tests your teacher might be able to help to read a question or to understand it, in others they won't be able to. Ask if you need help and see what they can support you with.
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