Year 4 Maths at Home: Expert Advice On What To Do To Help Your 8 or 9 Year Old Succeed

Year 4 maths brings with it a host of new topics that can be confusing for young minds. After being introduced to what primary school maths entails last year, your child will now be faced with new problems to tackle and questions to answer, but if you’ve found yourself wondering how you can help your Year 4 child with maths read on!

As they progress through primary school, knowing the best way to give your child help with their school work can prove very difficult as a busy parent. Unless you’ve managed to read every email, leaflet and flyer that has been sent out by the school (and assuming that the latter two even made it home…) you might find yourself asking questions such as:

What is my child going to be learning about this year?

Will me teaching them about it at home confuse them if I do it in a different way to their teacher?

Even I’m not sure how to do mixed fractions….what do I do?

year 4 maths mixed fractions matr lesson

As you can see, mixed fractions are tricky to get your head around!

Well, you’ll be pleased to hear that at Third Space Learning, we have experience of working with hundreds of primary schools and providing hundreds of thousands of maths lessons, so we have learnt a thing or two about what maths for 8-year-olds entails.

That is why decided to put together this post, to present you with a rough guide for the age-related expectations of the national curriculum, and how you can use home learning to help your children meet and exceed those expectations. 

The change in maths for 8-year-olds moving from Year 3 to Year 4

With Year 3 and the gradual transition into Key Stage 2 maths that comes with it now complete, your child may find that maths is probably becoming more of a challenge.

You may start to notice frustration with some of the harder topics (even if your child has been a maths whizz so far).

But don’t panic!

This is a common occurrence amongst 8-year-old children, especially when it comes to maths.

One of the most important things you can do as a parent at this point in your child’s mathematical development is to keep their enthusiasm going, especially in the face of any mind boggling maths problems that may be making an appearance.

maths for 8-year-olds

Having made the transition from Key Stage 1 to Key Stage 2, chances are that your child is feeling a bit more grown up.

The responsibilities that come with joining the upper half of primary school might be scary at first, but you can use this newfound maturity to your advantage.

However, if your child isn’t the mood for delving into the world of adulthood just yet, you can easily crank up the fun to keep them engaged, and we are going to take a look at both in this blog!

Year 4 Maths – It’s time for the adding and subtracting of 3 digit numbers (and even beyond that!)

At this age, your child will notice that numbers seem to just get bigger and bigger so you need to make sure they are comfortable in dealing with them.

Involving them in major purchasing decisions is a great way to get started. While you’ll always have the final say, showing your child that big numbers have a use in everyday life will help to make maths more concrete and in turn, easier to grasp.

Real life maths… without needing to leave the home

If you’ve already done the weekly shop, why not have a go at stimulating your child’s inner entrepreneur by making some imaginary shopping lists.

The only limit is their imagination, so whether they want to build a swimming pool in the back garden or just the some new clothes, the important thing is that they can work out how they will do this.

Maths for 8-year-olds calculating costs

Questions you should ask to stimulate thoughts include:

How much would it cost to buy all the things on their list?

How could they make the money?

How many hours would it take to earn the total?

This is a fun but effective approach to switch your child onto the real-life applications of maths (as well as some of the problem-solving skills that entrepreneurs need).

You might end up becoming the silent partner in your child’s new dog-walking business, but hey, it’ll be worth it for the incredible progress in maths!

Don’t stop there though, keep climbing through the numbers

Don’t be afraid to push past the millions either.

They are too tough to use in sums, but many children reach the end of primary school with very little knowledge of what happens after the millions and billions.

Why not try looking up the biggest numbers you can find and counting how many zeroes they have?

Taking away the mystery from what lies beyond the millions makes three- and four-digit numbers look easy in comparison.

Besides, who doesn’t want to know what a googolplex is? Maths for your 8 or 9 year old can be interesting for you as well!

Year 4 maths - what is a googolplex_

Answer: It is a 1 followed by 100 zeros! Try having a race with your child to see who can write out a googolplex in all of its glory!

Year 4 maths – Exploring the properties of 2D and 3D shapes

Learning the names and properties of 3D shapes doesn’t have to be dull, honest!

Believe it or not, shapes can present a very exciting opportunity for your child to explore a whole new world of engineering and design.

If you have a child that loves to build, by channelling this in the right way you can introduce both 2D and 3D shapes to them and you’ll be amazed at how quickly they become engaged with maths!

Making maths simple with straws – a Year 4 maths activity

If you have a box of single-use plastic straws in the house, why not get more out of them by using them for a fun maths construction task for your child?

With something as simple as a box of straws you can create a task that will not only engage your child, but help them to learn more about the properties of shapes.

Making 2D and 3D shapes using straws - year 4 maths

How to use straws to learn about shapes (and master geometric maths for Year 4 children!)

Step 1: Locate a box of plastic straws from the back of the cupboard, and some sticky tack to help with the building process.

Step 2: Give this ‘equipment’ to your child, and tell them that they need to make a certain shape. You can begin with simpler 2D shapes such as squares and circles, and then move onto more complicated 3D shapes like cubes once they have grasped the concept.

Step 3: Add a timer into the equation to further incentivise focus from your child. If they know that they only have two minutes to create a cube, they will definitely give it their full attention!

Add to the activity and set your 8-year-old a tricky maths challenge

If you find that you have a young architect on your hands, raise the bar in the creative stakes and challenge your child to create something that requires different 2D & 3D shapes to be combined.

This is a fantastic opportunity for you to bring your child’s interests into the maths you are doing with them at home, without them even realising it.

We never said maths for 8-year-olds couldn’t be fun!

Ideas of things you could ask your child to make include:

  • A robot – which child wouldn’t want a straw robot sitting proudly in their bedroom?
  • A football pitch
  • A dog/cat (albeit one that may look a little stiff)
  • A house
  • A self-portrait!
Robot made from straws - primary maths

It looks a little like a robot right?!

No matter what they decide to make, the key here is to talk about the shapes as you use them, rather than just drilling your child on the names and properties.

An open discussion will lead to more questions which you can then talk through with your child – a crucial exercise when it comes to maths for 8-year-olds – and as we know here at Third Space Learning, one-to-one communication is the best way to learn!

Year 4 maths – Helping with the fearful fractions

Dreaded fractions! If there’s one word that seems to send primary school students (and parents) running for the hills, it’s fractions.

But you will be pleased to hear that they don’t have to be scary. They simply look a little different to the kind of maths that your child has learned so far in their school career.

Fractions can be intimidating, so where should you start?

First and foremost, it’s a good idea to revise key vocabulary on this topic, as once that is secured it’s one obstacle that is then out of the way, and you will be able to move onto the more challenging stuff!

Here’s some key pieces of fraction terminology to get you started:

NumeratorThe number at the top of a fraction
DenominatorThe number at the bottom of the fraction
Proper fractionA fraction that is smaller than 1 (like 12)
Improper fraction A fraction that is bigger than 1 (like 32)
Mixed numberA number that has a whole number and a fraction (like 1 12)

This vocabulary should make it much easier for your child to access fractions. At this age, the maths for 8-year-olds curriculum requirements focus on ordering fractions, which is simple once you know your way around a basic fraction.

Fun with fractions – A simple activity your 8-year-old will love

Here’s an easy activity to make sure your child’s relationship with fractions gets off on the right foot:

Step 1: Grab a length of string and hang it up somewhere around your home to form a washing line.

Step 2: On pieces of paper or card, write down a series of fractions beginning at 1/10 and ending at 10/10

Step 3: Ask your child to peg them on the washing line in order. If they get stuck , you can remind them that it really  is as simple as looking at the numerator when the denominator is the same.

Fractions washing line - year 4 maths

Visualising each of the fractions in order will help your child to remember how to do this in the future, even when a washing line isn’t available!

Maths for Year 4 students – Bar charts, line graphs and pictograms

Data analysis might seem like a lofty prospect to an 8-year-old, but this is a great time to introduce your child to the various ways data can be presented.

Many school projects focus on collecting data in class rather than reading it, so at home you can support your child’s learning by getting into what the graphs actually mean.

How to get your child engaged with data collection

Concrete examples of what the data represents make graphs much clearer, so dig into issues that your child really cares about. This could include:

Does your little one love dolphins? Research how many there are in each ocean and plot them on a bar chart.

Are they scientists at heart? Grow a plant and plot its height on a line graph.

Got a football fanatic in the family? Work out how many goals were scored last season by each team in the Premier League.

Although pictograms might seem the most simplistic of the trio, they’re actually pretty commonplace.

Many researchers are leaning towards using more visually appealing forms of representations because they are better suited to marketing strategies. We know your child won’t be worrying about presenting the findings of their dolphin studying the 9am Monday marketing meeting, but it’s never too early to practise!

Don’t be afraid to experiment with different ways to show your child’s findings – as long as they’re discussing what the numbers mean, they’re learning.

Year 4 maths challenges: how to stretch them at home

Active learning, even when it only involves a small amount of physical activity is one of the best ways to make sure your child enjoys the maths they are doing.

An active way to help them get to grips with equivalent fractions is by creating and exploring a fraction wall!

Don’t worry, creating a fractions wall doesn’t mean you’ll need to do some interior design. It just consists of a colourful diagram which is an easy way to understand how different fractions can have the same value.

It’s a simple but effective visual representation – helpful when it comes to breaking down maths for 8-year-olds!

Fractions wall - part of year 4 maths

Step 1: Start out by looking at the fraction wall together and seeing how many quarters fit into one half.

Step 2: Challenge your child a little more by moving on to see how many eighths fit into one quarter, then one half.

Step 3: Once your child is feeling more confident, you could cover up parts of the fraction wall and ask them to use the surrounding fractions to work out what’s covered up.

Had enough of fractions for now?

If you find that fractions are beginning to frazzle your brain, put them on pause for a while and go back to the basics of maths.

Doing something as simple as revising key vocabulary can help your child to understand what will be coming up throughout the school year.

Here’s a list of some of the essential terms your child should know by the end of year four.

  • Tenths and hundredths
  • Decimal places
  • Round to nearest thousand
  • Negative integers
  • Roman numerals (I to C)
  • Inverse
  • Derive
  • Convert
  • Coordinates, translation, quadrant, x-axis, y-axis
  • Perimeter and area
  • Right angle, acute and obtuse angles
  • Equivalent decimals and fractions
  • Continuous data
  • Line graph

By practising what these words mean, even if it is just for five minutes per day, your child’s life will be much easier than if they were to try to cram in all of the words last minute.

Working together to tackle tenths, rummage through rounding and exploring equivalent fractions means that the definition of each word will be much more likely to stick in your child’s long-term memory, and this will stand them in good stead come the rest of the year.

Year 4 maths can be hard for both your child and you, but don’t let this be the case

Breakfast, getting showered and dressed, the school run, going to work, the school run part 2, grabbing the food shop, making sure homework is done……

This is of course only a taster of what a day in the life of a parent looks like. We understand that you are pushed for time already, so helping your 8-year-old with maths may not be an easy thing to slot into your calendar.

That’s why we’ve also put together this list of free home learning resources for parents to use – just download and print them and you’re good to go, saving you valuable time.

Ellie Williams
Ellie Williams
With a love for all things KS2 maths, Ellie is a part of the content team that helps all of the Third Space Learning blogs and resources reach teachers!
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