What is the most effective way of giving KS2 pupils an understanding of how maths actually works?
There is no doubt that the rote learning of times tables is helpful to most pupils. But for progress to be made beyond that point children also need to understand the meanings behind mathematical problems.
Perhaps the most effective way of encouraging children to think about such issue is to give them maths problems that need them to use their knowledge of the four basic functions to solve simple problems.
Of course this can be done through the classic, “A man goes to a shop three times and buys four items each time…” type of question. But before children are ready to enter into those conundrums, they need to be able to solve the maths problems in purely mathematical terms, without any words in the way.
And the most effective way of doing this is through missing digit puzzles in which the mathematical question is set out with one part of the problem missing.
Thus they can be presented with an additional problem in which part of the answer is written in, and one of the two numbers to be added together. They have to work out what is missing.
Later they can be asked for a number in the eight times table where the first number is between 1 and 6 and the last number is six.
The big benefit with this approach is that because the questions are presented as puzzles to be solved rather than maths to be learned, they are much more stimulating and attractive to most KS2 children – and they really do help the children progress towards a mastery of mathematics’ basic functions.
You can see examples of how this works on our website at: Missing digit puzzles for times tables
You can order Missing Digit Puzzles on our website either as a PDF for £10.99 or as a hardcopy book for £16.50. There is also the option to buy the hardcopy and PDF together at a discounted price of £19.80.