Maths Mum

Local Mum and maths teacher Karen McGuigan is blogging for local mums all about maths!

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Maths is still maths

Why has maths got such a bad reputation?

“I just can’t help Thomas with his reading!  Can you believe he’s only in Year 2 and it’s too difficult for me?!” – If you heard this at the school gate you would probably be quite shocked.  However, substitute the word ‘reading’ with ‘maths’ and this statement becomes much more acceptable. “Maths scares me”, “I was never good at maths”, “I’m not surprised she struggles with maths – she takes after me” – all examples of statements I’ve heard at the school gates.  And my personal favourite – “Maths is so different now, why did they make it so complicated?”

Each of these statements will come back to a parent who either isn’t confident in their own maths ability or a parent who is confident with their own ability but hasn’t taken the time to understand maths as it is today.

How is maths different today?

The truth is that maths is exactly the same as it has always been but the way it is taught in schools today is different; different but not more complicated.  Our generation learnt maths by rote.  We were shown the method and told to practice it until we got it right.  This is probably the reason that maths has got such as bad press with us because there wasn’t a backup plan if you didn’t get it.  Today our children explore maths, they are provided many different ways to solve problems, and the wrong answer isn’t a big red X it is the basis for a discussion on other possibilities. 

Some amongst us may think that it is a ‘fluffier’ methodology, but research has shown time and time again that we all learn in different ways and therefore it makes sense that we offer up more than just one way to do something.  I liken it to a journey – you start at ‘Q’ the question and you get to ‘A’ the answer.  We were told that we had to go the quickest route and use a car.  Our children get the option of using whatever route they want and on whatever mode of transport they prefer.  They might choose to go the scenic route on a scooter.  It might make the journey slightly longer and seem more complicated but ultimately, they get to the same destination and remember the experience.

The ‘new’ way maths is taught means that our children aren’t scared of maths.  In fact, ask most 5- and 6-year olds and they will tell you that maths is fun.  They have a much better understanding of numbers and by Year 4 will be able to do things in their heads that you or I would take to our smartphone to work out.

How can you help your child with maths?

To help your child successfully with maths you will need confidence AND knowledge. 

Confidence in your own ability.  Maths hasn’t changed since you were at school – two plus two still equals four.  Addition, subtraction, multiplication and division are still the main operations our children learn to master.  You learnt them when you were at school and use them in your everyday life. Confidence is the belief that you can help your child with their maths.

Knowledge takes a little bit more effort.  Try not to force your way on them - they might not be ready to drive yet!  A recent Cambridge University report into the origins of maths anxiety states “primary-aged children referred to instances where they had been confused by different teaching methods”.  You need to open your mind to the alternatives, take time to understand the new methods and terminology, be prepared to take the scenic route. Knowledge is understanding the correct way to help your child with their maths. 

Can maths be fun?

Hell yes!  Maths should be fun.  Maths isn’t about sitting down and doing sums together.  Maths should be weaved into our everyday life.  It is playing Top Trumps, it is spotting shapes and reading maps on nature walk, it is working out how many chores equate to the latest football strip, it is gauging the right ratio of milk to eggs to get the pancakes just right, it is calculating how many episodes of ‘Horrible Histories’ it will take to cover the journey to Granny’s house, it is about doing a survey in the playground and putting together a statistical argument to justify the statement that “the majority of 12 years olds have/haven’t* got a phone”.  *delete as appropriate! 

As parents, we are a child’s first and most enduring educator.  We have the ability to support and nurture a positive attitude to maths at home.  We might not have all the answers, but we can have fun trying to work them out. 

“Mrs Bee has 22 balls to carry in 3 bags.  Each bag holds even numbers.  How many different ways can she do it?” – Get 22 chocolates/sweets/grapes and 3 bowls, make it a practical experiment with a reward at the end.

Local Mums Discount:
The Complete Times Tables Testing Pack for FREE using the Local Mums Discount code  at checkout: CTTP20FREE

Please find my free guide to making your own maths aids below:

The Maths Mum® - Make your own Maths Aids copy


The Maths Mum® - Make your own Maths Aids copy 2

The Maths Mum® - Make your own Maths Aids copy 2 15.05.09

The Maths Mum® - Make your own Maths Aids copy


8 copy



Maths challenge

When lockdown was looming, I realised that parents teaching maths to primary aged children at home was going to be challenge.  Most households have an abundance of books to read but do they have Dienes, Numicon, Place Value Mats, Number Lines and Cuisenaire Rods readily available to help with maths understanding?  

No, they don’t and that is what inspired me to create the “Make your own maths aids” resource, publish it for FREE with an accompanying video explain what all the tools are and how they are used.  

 In the last ten weeks, I have juggled being a mum, teacher, chef, cleaner and referee for three boys (aged 6, 8 with Downs syndrome and 10) during the day whilst creating free maths resources and videos for parents in the early mornings and evenings.  They are always produced from a parent’s perspective, explaining how things are taught today, topic-based booklets that show you how to work up to and ahead, and, most importantly, they are not single page downloads!  

The amount of time I have wasted on a Sunday evening downloading work page by page inspired me to write the Complete Times Tables Testing Pack.  It is 50 pages in one pdf – download, print, finished – and to quote my personal favourite, Maui, “you’re welcome!”

 Now that the end of the school year is looming, I understand that parents want to know how their child is doing academically but who will be writing the school report this year!?  How do you know what your child should and shouldn’t know?  

This is exactly why I have written the End of Year Maths Reviews and Assessments – one for each academic year in primary school.  They provide a comprehensive way to check what your child knows and doesn't know against government guidelines in a one, easy to download pdf.  They are also a way to help parents focus on which topics they will need to brush up on to help their children!

Local Mums Discount:
The Complete Times Tables Testing Pack for FREE using the Local Mums Discount code  at checkout: CTTP20FREE

Please find my Addition and Subtraction video and accompanying guide for Local Mums below:

The Maths Mum® Explains - ADDITION & SUBTRACTION

2 The Maths Mum® Explains - ADDITION & SUBTRACTION copy

3The Maths Mum® Explains - ADDITION & SUBTRACTION copy

4The Maths Mum® Explains - ADDITION & SUBTRACTION copy 3

5The Maths Mum® Explains - ADDITION & SUBTRACTION copy 2

6The Maths Mum® Explains - ADDITION & SUBTRACTION copy 2

7The Maths Mum® Explains - ADDITION & SUBTRACTION copy 4

8The Maths Mum® Explains - ADDITION & SUBTRACTION copy 5

9The Maths Mum® Explains - ADDITION & SUBTRACTION copy 5

10The Maths Mum® Explains - ADDITION & SUBTRACTION copy 5

About Karen


Hi, I'm Karen McGuigan and I can define myself in many ways... A mum, a "wife to be", a chef, a laundrette, a cleaner, a Practice Manager, a Chemical Engineer, a gymnast, a clown, a runner, a pilates guru and a teacher.  

I realised soon after I had my first son that I would be his main teacher in life. And then shortly after my second son was born with Down Syndrome I realised that one approach doesn't fit all. My third son has taught me that whatever worked before will probably not work again this time around! Whatever they throw at me, I am determined to find a way to teach them and working that out is the challenge I love.  

I am a passionate person and I always aim to do things to the best of my ability. The Maths Mum® is my fourth baby and we are still very much in the baby phase.  I plan to nurture and grow it slowly and surely, whilst trying not to neglect my three boys, my Dude, my three chickens, my four…ahem, three gerbils (opps), my family, my friends and... oh yes, me! 

I am not a qualified teacher - not in the PGCE sense - however I did study maths to a very high level; the level that has maths with no numbers in it! I've always loved maths. It was my favourite subject at school and, annoyingly, I was the girl at school who just got it and found it easy.  

I recognise that things are different today - the techniques and terminology. When my eldest started school I had to reeducate myself. Now my plan is to help reeducate other parents. It is honestly not rocket science. If you have the time and inclination then you probably don't need me. But if you want someone else to do all the hard work and give you the crib notes for the exam then The Maths Mum® is for you!

If I can share my passion for maths with you and you can share that passion with your child then we are definitely in a win-win situation. Passion for maths to the power of infinity and beyond…

Local Mums Discount:
The Complete Times Tables Testing Pack for FREE using the Local Mums Discount code  at checkout: CTTP20FREE

Karen McGuigan aka The Maths Mum®
Link to the End of Year Review & Assessments:

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