It can be a real blow to a child at any age to receive a low score in any exam. Here is how to respond to a low score in maths:
Your response should be age-appropriate and positive.
Younger children have little control over their score. They do what they can and there is no point discussing whether they read the question properly, or messed up a simple addition sum. Reassure your child immediately – these things are not important and everyone has to begin somewhere. But make a mental note to tackle a lack of number confidence and to speak to the child’s teacher about any gaps that you can help to fill. Online number games and apps are wonderful confidence (and accuracy) boosters. Click on the link below for recommendations.
Children between the ages of 9 and 11 need to be handled a little differently. The low score useful, and should be analysed. If it didn’t reflect a generally strong performance in class, then it will be improved next time with the introduction of exam strategy. Alternatively, if maths is weak throughout the year,then this needs to be addressed with a longterm and manageable programme of work.
CLICK HERE for my previous blog, How to fix your child’s maths
Older children and teenagers shouldn’t be made to feel bad about a poor result, regardless how good their maths usually is in class. It is an academic exercise to go through the paper, looking at types of errors (tally them up under the headings: silly mistakes, easy fixes, tricky questions, new information) and learning to recognise individual weaknesses. In some cases this will be enough to improve their score considerably next time, but usually it was the wrong sort of revision at the heart of it all.
What is the right sort of revision?
For young children it is a regular 5 minutes at bedtime maths games habit. Go online or choose a Squeebles app and build maths into their bedtime routine.
For 9-11 year olds it is a matter of regular maths games for speed and accuracy, coupled with an organised programme of revision, if an 11 plus or entrance exam is on the cards. You will need help putting one of these together, but without help:
WHSmith Challenge Maths is a great teaching programme. Buy the book for the year below and above as well as your child’s own year group as the books are closely linked and great for flicking back and ahead depending on need.
You will also need access to practice papers, either 11+ or previous entrance exam papers from the school. If none are available, do a web search to find papers from similar schools that are on their websites.
Older children need to be doing a little maths exercise most nights from their text book, or an appropriate book for their age group/curriculum. Regular practice increases speed and accuracy – but avoid MyMaths online work, which is fine when set by the teacher but doesn’t reflect the style of exam papers particularly well.
When you treat a bad result calmly and positively it will maintain your child’s confidence levels and allow them to see a way forward. In the background you should have a little plan of your own – as outlined above – and you will be teaching your child how to learn from their mistakes. One of the best lessons of all.