Not the usual fare for Juxtabook but Maths for Mums and Dads is so darn good I have to mention it. Now there is nothing wrong with my maths, I have a good GCSE in it, an A level in Economics and I run my own business. I am not scared of numbers as some people are. However, when I started to help out at my daughter's primary school they asked me to do extra maths practice with some KS2 children. I was lost. At sea. Bewildered.
But they did the most peculiar things in their maths lessons. It was not that I could not have done the maths had I had it explained and had a few minutes to practise a couple of examples on my own, but rather as someone flung into the middle of the weirdest ways of doing things I was foxed. And I was supposed to be doing the explaining.
The fact is that maths teaching has changed radically over the last few years. If you have primary school age children or grandchildren and have to help with homework you will know what I mean. At the time I started as a parent helper my own daughter was still in Reception class so her home work was not yet an issue but I had seen what was coming and I knew it soon would be.
The answer I discovered was Maths for Mums and Dads by Rob Eastaway and Mike Askew. Take adding up of large numbers. I learnt the borrowing method (which was new fangled in its turn once) as many of you did no doubt, but they don't do that any more. They do some weird exploded version. Eastaway and Askew explain not only the new methods, but why the changes were introduced.
Times tables, already a bug bear in KS1, are also dealt with thoroughly. Lots of general advice and specific short cuts as well as explaining why children don't learn their tables in the order we did. I did 2s, 3s, 4s, and so on. They now start with 2 , 5 and 10 and learn 3 and 7 last. The whys and wherefores of this are explained.
One of the wonderful things about the book is the examples of children's wrong answers to maths questions. By explaining what goes on in children's heads when faced with a maths problem you can see where the potential is for confusion when you are explaining it to a child of your own. It also explains what the schools and examiners expect from your child so you can help them do things the 'right' way.
If it sounds like a dry read, it is not. It is full of tips and tricks and short cuts and little test yourself quizzes. There are games you can play with children, and 'magic' tricks and other ways to bring maths into everyday life. Astonishingly it is a page turner! My mother-in-law picked it up after tea one evening and couldn't put it down. She kept saying, "I must go to bed" and then staying up to read another chapter.
Seriously, if you spend time with kids aged up to about 12 (infants, juniors or even early secondary school age) then this book is so very, very useful despite its (bewildering) lack of an index. Even if you think you are good at maths every parent should have a copy, and every school should stock a few to loan out. I can't remember when I last saw a 'how too' book do its work as thoroughly or as entertainingly as this.