Junior Cycle - Ordinary Level

Advice for Parents

Never say to your child, “I am bad at maths and I think it runs in the family.” Maths can be learned by everyone – all you need is a good teacher and a receptive student.

Maths is everywhere. Be interested in the mathematic parts of life – even if you find it difficult. For example, when they say on the news that a euro is worth $1.10, discuss if this is better for Irish or American tourists and tell them that when you were at College you could get $1.50 for one euro.

There are games like Monopoly, chess and Scrabble which have maths elements in them. Playing these at home can have a great effect on everyone in the family.

I have often heard parents say that their child was good at Maths until they went to secondary school. This can be because the nature of Maths changes: it moves from one-step problems such as, “Find 65% of €450” to multi-step problems such as, “The population of a town went up by 25%. The following year the population went down by k%. The population was now the same as it started at. Find k.” [And the answer is not 25!]

Homework is the key to success. Make sure your child does his Maths homework and does it well.

Maths is written in Mathematical symbols, which we call algebra. This language has two purposes: to help the user to reach the answer in logical steps (which are written down) AND to record the methods which the student employed. This becomes more and more important as your child grows towards adulthood. We become more interested in the METHODS which the student employs (as demonstrated by what (s)he writes down) and less interested in the ANSWER.

Encourage your child to SHOW THEIR METHODS, by using algebra step by step and laying their work out nicely. This will be a great help to your child – especially when the Maths gets more complex and more difficult.

Parents often ask me, “Do you think my child needs grinds in Maths?” My answer is, “Does (s)he need more teaching or more learning?” Think about it before you pay out cash. Teachers teach and students learn. Even if you have the best teacher in Ireland (and go to Castleknock College), you still have to learn the stuff.

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