Turn your child into a maths magician?

Things That Make You Go 'AH!' Open Ended Questions!
How do you move your child forward when they become 'stuck'. Sadly children are not born with a flip-top head that we can open and see what is going on in there, so what is the next best thing?


Open Ended Questions!

There are two types of questions: closed questions and open ended questions.

A closed question only requires a very short answer. If you can answer a question with a yes or no, then you are most likely answering a closed question. For example: "Is maths your favourite subject?" or " Is 6 an even number?"

An open-ended question require more than a one word answer, these questions mean your children need to really think about their answers-this helps to stimulate mathematical thinking. Open ended question let your children think about the strategies they have used and help them recognise the pattern and relationships between numbers.

Open-ended questions are a great way to get children moving again when they become 'stuck'

Here are some great questions you can use to help your children at different stages of answering a maths problem:

When they are STARTING a problem :

  • How are you going to tackle this problem?
  • What is the first thing you think you need to do?
  • What operation are you going to use? (addition, subtraction, multiplication, division )
  • What do you need to find out?

    When they get STUCK :

  • What do you think has gone wrong?
  • Can you talk me through what you have done so far?
  • What did you do last time?
  • What have you done differently this time?
  • What could you try next?
  • How can we see if this is working, using the 'guess and check' method
  • What about putting things in order?
  • Maybe a table, graph or picture might help?

    While your child is WORKING ON the problem

  • Can you tell me what you have done so far?
  • Why did you use that method?
  • What did you mean here?
  • Can we look at this question another way?
  • What other numbers do you think this would work with?
  • What kind of pattern can you see?
  • Can you group these ....... in some way?
  • How can this pattern help you find an answer?
  • What do think comes next? Why?
  • Is there a way to record what you've found that might help us see more patterns? What would happen if....?

    Ask these questions when your child has FINISHED a problem :

  • How did you get your answer?
  • Can you describe the method you used?
  • Have you thought of another way this could be done?
  • Do you think we have found the best solution?
  • What could you try next?
  • How did you check it?
  • What have you learned today that you didn't know before?

    These questions will help your children work through the frustration of getting stuck by helping them understand where they started, what they have done and where they can go next.

    Mistakes are wonderful and they help us to learn, but many children think they are not very smart because of them and can get very negative.

    It is very important, as the parent, to remember to stay super positive and calm.

    Talk through the area where they may have taken a wrong turn, lead them to identify the problem, and then congratulate them on finding a way that they now know doesn't work for this problem.

    One of the great side effects of these awesome questions is that you get a wonderful insight into the way your child's mind works!
  • StayOnTrack Limited 2014