Maths for 9-year-olds can be difficult. It is a time in a child’s life when a large number of new and increasingly difficult concepts and topics are being introduced, and when combine with the other subjects they have to learn about in school, things can seem a little overwhelming to young minds. Don’t panic though, we are here to help you understand how you can help your 9-year-old with maths!
The introduction of new ideas in Year 5 can be a challenge, especially when it comes to maths. Fractions, decimals and percentages are just some of the mathematical ideas that will be introduced to your 9-year-old in their lessons this year, and as many of us will remember from our school days just how complicated they can be the first time you learn about them.
These topics do prove difficult for most children, so don’t panic if your child feels frustrated with maths this year. With a little resilience, grit (and a sprinkling of maths magic from Matr), they will have no trouble becoming a better mathematician this year!
Thanks to our years of experience in working with children in primary schools all around the UK, we have developed a very good understanding of what maths for 9-year-olds is all about. That’s why we have prepared this post to help you as a parent understand what’s expected from your child this year.
What does the national curriculum say about maths for 9-year-olds?
The national curriculum states that in Year 5 there should be a focus on building a strong foundation for some of the more complex concepts that will eventually crop up at secondary school.
This includes, but is not limited to, securing knowledge in:
- Place value – Reading, writing, ordering and comparing numbers to at least 1,000,000 and determining the value of each digit.
- Addition and subtraction – Adding whole numbers with more than 4 digits using formal written methods.
- Multiplication and division – Multiplying and dividing numbers mentally, drawing upon known facts.
- Fractions – Multiplying proper fractions and mixed numbers by whole numbers.
- Measurement – Converting between different units of metric measure; calculating and comparing the area of rectangles.
- Geometry – Identifying 3-D shapes and drawing angles; identifying, describing and representing the position of a shape following a reflection or translation.
To read more about the national curriculum for Year 5 and what is expected of 9-year-old children when it comes to maths, take a look at the government website here.
With so much maths being introduced, it’s important to talk about it!
Talking to your child about maths throughout this turbulent time is crucial. They may begin to feel overwhelmed by all of this new knowledge being imparted upon them, and having a parent or career to talk to will really help to ease this burden.
Many 9-year-olds will be going through an emotional change too. Friendship groups become more complicated, self-image comes into play and the very real pressure of exams looms on the horizon.
It can be a bumpy time for many, but having an open dialogue around challenges makes the journey much smoother.
Fortunately, maths is a great tool for practising these kinds of conversations, and what follows is some of the key things your child will face in maths this year, so read up and get a firm understanding of what maths for 9-year-olds is all about!
Maths for 9-year-olds – Understanding what on earth factor pairs of a product are!
Now is the time to clarify that tricky maths vocabulary. At this age your child should know their measurements from their multiplication, but there are still a number of other mathematical words and phrases that could cause issues down the line if they are not understood now.
Two of these terms are factors and products.
Factors and products might sound complicated, but they’re actually a great way of talking about multiplication without getting bogged down in the numbers.
To help secure this knowledge in your child, It’s really important to make sure you practise using these terms whenever you can.
For example, if you say twelve (the product or answer), your child could answer three and four, or two and six (the factors, or numbers that multiply together to make the product).
If you’re feeling uncertain about factors and products, take a few minutes to look at this simple diagram which gives you some examples for each term.
Adding an additional layer of maths into the mix – It’s time for prime numbers
Once your child (and to an extent you) are feeling confident about factors and products, you can add prime numbers into the mix. This may be tough maths for 9-year-olds, but nobody improves without being challenged!
For anyone who may have forgotten exactly what a prime number is, it can be classed as:
“A whole number that can not be made by multiplying other whole numbers together.”
“Any number that is divisible only by itself and 1.”
Prime numbers include 2,3,5,7,11 etc.
Why not try challenging them to come up with as many numbers as possible that have only two factors (for example, the number five can only be made by multiplying one and five)? Or, alternatively you can have a race against your child to see which of you can name the most prime numbers in a minute. This is a good excuse to make sure your maths skills are still up to scratch as well!
An amazingly simple prime numbers card game you can play at home
Here is a great activity that can help your child secure prime number knowledge using a deck of cards.
Step 1: Grab an ordinary deck of cards.
Step 2: Give each player half of the deck, but make sure they are dealt face down.
Step 3: Players take it in turns to flip a card over and place it in a pile in the middle. If the card that comes out is a prime number, the first person to exclaim “Prime!” wins the card and the rest of the stack.
Step 4: The winner is the player who manages to get the most cards when the game finishes. (We recommend ensuring that each game lasts for no longer than 5 minutes.)
Take a look at the video below to see how it works, and how you can bring a slight variation into the game if you want to speed it up!
Another key maths skill 9-year-olds need – Converting between measurements!
As is the way with getting older, the numbers just keep getting bigger, and this is no different in Year 5 maths lessons.
Measurements in particular is an area of maths where this is the case, and this usually means converting between smaller measurement units (like centimetres) to bigger units (like metres).
Switching between these units is a crucial skill at this age and can be incredibly useful later in life too.
Bring some measurement maths into your everyday life
Even when you are just going about your daily routine, you may not realise just how many opportunities there are to help your 9-year-old practise their measurement conversion skills.
One of the best opportunities for them to test their skills is with food and drink.
At any opportunity, point out the measurements of food and drink and ask your child to convert them to a bigger or smaller unit. This works both ways of course, so ask your child to challenge you too when they see fit.
Forming a habit of converting every number they see will give them great place value skills, and you’ll catch any misconceptions around decimals easily this way.
The metric system vs imperial measurements – Both are still important
Fortunately, the main focus of the current curriculum is on the metric system (which is nice and easy). But in Year 5, your child will need to know about imperial units like pints, pounds and inches too.
Although it only makes up a small part of the curriculum, it’s worth explaining to your child that although we use the metric system for most things, there are still uses for imperial measurements (like pints of milk and gallons of petrol).
It’s confusing for most people, so getting to 9 years of age and finding out about a completely different set of measurements is baffling to say the least.
The best way to clear this up is to show your child how each system is used in real life. When you go to the supermarket, point out which products use which system, when you are driving show them that speeds are measured in miles per hour, and encourage them to work out their own height in feet and inches.
This will help your child to conceptualise the two systems as side-by-side tools. You could even get them converting between the metric and imperial measures if they’re feeling really confident.
More measurement: Practise telling the time together
As the world becomes more and more digital, many children are growing up not being able to read analog clocks.
But telling the time is an important part of maths for 9-year-olds, so make sure your child practises reading analog clocks in everyday life.
It’s as simple as reading the clock you walk past on the side of a building or a church.
You could ask them what time you need to leave the house to get to school on time or how long it is until their swimming lesson.
How else will they ever be able to read the iconic Big Ben?
But don’t forget digital!
Children also need to know how to tell the time on 24-hour clocks, so if they’re watching television or are on the computer, why not ask them to read the time to you or get them to work out how long it is until dinner?
If your child enjoys learning online, there are lots of fun interactive games and apps out there that they can use to practise telling time too.
They often only take 5 or 10 minutes and are even free to access, but can make all the difference to your child developing their skills!
More important maths for 9-year-olds – Shape transformations: Reflection, rotation and translation
Shape extends beyond simply recognising names and properties at this age. 9-year-olds need to know how to manipulate shapes on a grid. This is when accuracy skills come to the forefront, so make sure your child understands that reflection, rotation and translation all require a careful eye and a steady hand.
It’s very common for children who have strong number skills to find these three processes difficult, so be patient and practise often.
Refer to real life uses of these skills whenever you can. Transformations play a key role in animating cartoons, helping planes to take off and even in sports strategy.
How you can practise shape transformation at home
Strategy 1: Using rotation
To begin with, practise reflection using a mirror.
To do this you’ll need to:
Step 1: Draw a selection of shapes on a grid, leaving enough room at the side for the next step.
Step 2: Reflect the shapes you have drawn by placing a small mirror next to the shape.
Step 3: Draw the reflected shape at the same distance from the mirror line as the original shape.
Something to note- You can use the squares to help you, but in secondary school, your child will draw reflections without a grid. For now though, it’s more important to get a solid understanding of the concept.
Strategy 2: Using rotation
A slightly trickier skill to master than reflection, rotation can be a great way to help your 9-year-old learn about shape transformation in a fun and interactive way.
To do this you’ll need to:
Step 1: Get some tracing paper and lay it over a piece of regular paper which has shapes on it.
Step 2: Draw on a square grid and use a ruler to copy the shape onto the tracing paper.
Step 3: Next, draw a dot to mark the centre of the grid.
Step 4: Match up this point with the centre of the grid and place your pencil on the dot. You’ll be able to rotate the tracing paper around the grid to whichever position you want!
This is a great way to improve spatial awareness for rotation – the trick now is to practise drawing the rotated shape without the tracing paper.
Strategy 3: Using translation
Translation is the more challenging transformation of the three because it requires careful attention (and who’s careful when they’re nine?).
This time, all you’re doing is moving the shape around the grid (without turning it). The easiest way to do this is to look at each corner (or vertex) of the shape at a time and follow the instructions for translation for each one. This way, you slowly piece the shape back together (rather than trying to move the whole thing at once, which can get confusing quickly).
Challenge your 9-year-old with maths at home
The real world is full of problems that need to be solved on a daily basis, so now is a good time to get your 9-year-old ahead with some problem-solving practice!
After learning how to crunch the numbers, applying them to word problems provides a meatier challenge for those who need it.
Rather than being presented with endless sums that they can whizz through, this switch in format encourages independence and resilience.
Confident mathematicians might find this frustrating at first, but if you take your time together, you’ll reap the reward of solving a tough problem.
The easiest way to make word problems more engaging is to own them. Take a look at a few word problems together and decide what makes a great word problem and what makes a terrible one.
You’ll notice that some are very clear, whereas others have ambiguous wording.
It’s necessary to identify this (even if you’re not solving them right away) so that your child understands the importance of reading questions carefully.
Once you both know your way around a good word problem, have a go at writing them for each other.
Model working out the problems your child writes for you. If it’s impossible to solve (perhaps there’s not enough information), then talk about it. Eventually, your child will be confident enough to write a word problem for their teacher (and we know that outsmarting your teacher is a major motivator when you’re nine).
Of course, this is only one of the ways in which you can challenge your child with maths. There are plenty of amazing maths games for 9-year-olds out there, and you can’t go wrong with a simple worksheet if you are looking to keep them busy with something productive. Take a look through the other blogs we’ve written up on Matr and you’ll find a number of gems!
Maths for 9-year-olds can be difficult, but this doesn’t have to be the case…
Time is a precious gift, and it is one that many parents simply don’t have. If this is the case for you, doing maths with your 9-year-old may not be top of the agenda when other fun activities are on the table, so consider taking a closer look at all we offer here at Matr.
Our tutors are trained in everything 9-year-olds need to know in maths, and with a range of resources all targeted towards individual learners, you can rest safe in the knowledge that the worksheets and other activities we have are exactly the right difficulty for your child.
To learn more about out one-to one maths tuition and how it could work for your child, learn more by clicking here. We are extremely excited to bring all of the knowledge we have from providing over 650,000 lessons in primary schools throughout the UK into your home, but don’t wait too long as spaces are filling up fast!