What we do for children experiencing difficulties in mathematics

 Many children experience some areas of difficulty during the course of their education, and all staff at Gidea Park Primary School are committed to finding ways of supporting children to access and make progress in their learning. Listed below are some of the ways your child might be supported if they are experiencing difficulties in mathematics.

Precision Teaching

Fluent computational skills are dependent on accurate and rapid recall of basic number bonds to 20 and times-tables facts.  Precision Teaching is a motivating teaching method which can be used to accelerate progress in learning number facts.  The learner's daily performance in recalling a set number of number facts in a limited time frame is recorded - a process which is known to increase motivation. A summative record tracks the rate of progress over time and as children’s skills improve, so they are introduced to new number facts to learn.

A structured maths programme

Children may also use the Plus One or Power of Two programmes, which are one-to-one structured mathematics interventions to support students who have difficulty with numbers.

Pre-learning and over-learning

Both pre-learning and over-learning aim to boost a child’s confidence.  Pre-learning is when children are introduced to new concepts in the days or weeks prior to the main class teaching, so they have some familiarity with the content when it is introduced in the classroom. Over-learning gives children additional opportunities outside of the main lesson to practise and develop competence in skills they have started to acquire, helping them on the pathway towards secure understanding.

Presenting information and tasks in different ways

Teachers will use a great many visual representations of the mathematics being taught along with some concrete resources as appropriate. For example, a way of systematically finding number bonds to five using counters and colours for recording:


Understanding, however, does not happen automatically - children need to reason by and with themselves, and make their own connections. Therefore, teachers aim to get children into good habits from Year 1 in terms of reasoning and looking for patterns and connections in mathematics. The question “what is the same, what is different?” is used frequently to make comparisons. For example, a Year 3 child may be asked, “what is the same and what is different between the three times table and the six times table?”

Use of song and rhyme

This may help with learning times tables, number bonds, etc.

How parents/carers can help

  • Be careful how you speak about maths with your child. Remain positive and work together on number challenges. 
  • Understand that maths needs direct, targeted practice. By regularly practising number bonds and times tables in manageable chunks, your child will be given solid foundations for future learning.  Use motivating sites such as Times Tables Rockstars and Hit The Button for further practice.
  • If your child lacks confidence, go back a few steps to the skills that they feel comfortable doing and build from there.
  • Praise continued effort, not performance. We all learn from our mistakes so change “I can’t do it,” to “I can’t do it yet.”
  • Maths is all around us, such as in shopping, cooking, etc. - so you can use everyday experiences to reinforce and develop maths skills and vocabulary. Measurement, fractions, shapes, time and money all benefit from real world application and often can be naturally harnessed as a way to learn maths.