When you have been in teaching for a few years, it can sometimes feel that there is no such thing as 'new', just 'recycled'. Many of the concepts behind the new curriculum are what hard working teachers up and down the country have been exploring with their students for years.

Concerns have been voiced from some quarters over the drive to achieve higher standards without the support of basic understanding.

'In maths you need to learn the early concepts before you learn the later concepts, so there is a problem that there will be children who have not learned the earlier concepts before being expected to learn the more demanding ones.' (Pupils begin new 'tough' national curriculum - Hannah Richardson 01.09.14 - BBC news)

Charlie Stripp, director at the National Centre for Excellence in the Teaching of Mathematics also shared this view:

'Maths is a subject that builds on itself, if the foundations aren't firm then that leads to problems later.'

However, he goes on to explain that the NCETM supports the new maths curriculum and has developed resources to support teachers.

The new curriculum is clear in its support of the use of practical resources to develop strong mental images of numbers and talks about 'exploring and using a variety of resources' and 'using mental images of numbers and their relationship to support the development of mental calculation strategies.'

This all goes to support our firm belief that children need access to hands-on practical resources to enable them to build clear pictures of numbers in their heads. From this they can progress onto calculations and then start to explore number further, thinking about fractions, decimals and negative numbers. The new curriculum puts a strong emphasis on problem solving and encourages children to draw on their own resources and knowledge in coming up with an answer.

For teachers, the main aim is to provide children with a skill set that enables them to do that and as parents, we want to support and encourage our children as much as possible.

So for now, as parents, what can we do to help? Handy Homework has put together a short list of ideas for parents of KS1 children (age 5-7):

- Use number beads and cubes to help children become familiar with numbers to 20 (find different amounts, 1 more, 1 less, simple calculations e.g. 15-3 etc.)
- Use the number line and number square to help children feel confident with the value of numbers e.g. find 12, find 19, find 23, find 65, find 72. this helps them to feel confident with the value of numbers.
- Use place value cards to find the value of 'digits' e.g. make 27. what is the value of the '2'? answer '20'
- Use the number square to see patterns in times tables (remember you can write on the number square with a dry wipe pen) e.g. circle the numbers in the 5 times tables....what do you notice? (they all end in '5' or '0')
- Let children explore the equipment themselves / let them teach you...'can you show me how to do it?'

One of the most important things to remember is to **make any activities fun!** Maths has a bad reputation for using difficult and unfamiliar language (calculations, digits, formula etc...) so keep it simple and fun so that the children feel confident and happy!