Mathematics is one of the six key learning areas in NSW schools. It is a subject that is vital for our children to be prepared for their future lives. It is an area of learning that relates to everyday living, and as such, builds upon students’ experiences prior to starting Kindergarten.
The NSW Board of Studies, whose job it is to set syllabus content, states that ‘Mathematics is important because it:
• is a powerful tool for solving problems within and beyond mathematics
• is a significant part of the cultural heritage of many diverse societies
• provides students with a powerful, precise and concise means of communication
• supports concurrent learning in other key learning areas
• builds a sound foundation for further mathematics education.’
According to the Parents Guide to the NSW Mathematics syllabus, which can be found at http://k6.boardofstudies.nsw.edu.au/go/parents/parents-guide-to-the-nsw-primary-syllabuses, students should have the following skills by the end of Kindergarten:
- count aloud to 30 and recognise numbers from 1 to 20
- manipulate objects such as counters to help add and subtract numbers
- recognise the value of currency, eg 20 cent piece, five dollar note; count backwards from a given number in the range 0 to 20
- name the days of the week and seasons
- tell the time to the hour, eg four o’clock; identify and name simple shapes, eg circles, squares
- use positional terms, eg between, under, right, left
- recognise that halves are equal parts
Compare that to the skills that they should have by the end of their primary school education:
- use 24-hour time and am/pm notation
- calculate simple fractions and percentages of an amount, eg 1/5 of 30 = 6, 10% of $200 = 1/10 of $200 = $20
- multiply simple fractions by whole numbers , eg 3 x 2/5 = 6/5
- record remainders as fractions or decimals, eg 25 ÷ 4 = 61/4 or 6.25
- identify and construct 3-D objects on the basis of their properties, eg rectangular prisms, triangular pyramids
- record volume and capacity using decimal notation to 3 decimal places, eg 1.275 L
- interpret and draw a wider range of graphs using a scale, eg line graphs, divided bar graphs
- complete simple sentences by calculating missing values, eg 270 ÷ x = 9
I think you’ll agree that there’s a lot of learning in between!
So how can you help your child? Well, children learn best through ‘hands-on’ experiences where they get to physically interact with materials in the first instance, before they can develop to the ‘mental’ calculations of Mathematics. The best way to give kids ‘hands-on’ experiences is to share real-life maths situations. For example, cooking with your child provides ample opportunities for measuring, counting, paying for ingredients, using containers that are labelled by size, identifying shapes (via cookie cutters for example), cutting ingredients into fractions (eg. cutting apples for an apple pie into quarters or eighths), patterns when decorating a cake…the list goes on!
Playing games like Uno, Go Fish, Battleship, Chess, enables exposure to numbers, counting, position, space, shapes, patterns…counting cars as you travel along the highway, writing on the calendar and marking off events are other examples.
You are only limited by your imagination.