As students enter secondary school from primary, a key difference is the way in which mathematical concepts are used. Your child moves from solving problems in the traditional format, to being fluent and needing to reason with possible ideas and justify their thinking in more detail. These are numeracy skills. This is because being a numerate individual means a person can:

  • Understand the problem
  • Reason and ask questions about the problem
  • Be fluent in choosing appropriate procedures or formulae
  • Attempt to solve the problem using their prior knowledge.

The skills required to be numerate individuals are required in every subject and in all aspects of society.

Developing numeracy skills at a junior level: incorporating maths into everyday experiences

Developing numeracy skills early (and to continue developing them) gives your child an important foundation for their learning and increases their confidence in their use of mathematical concepts.

Incorporating maths into everyday experiences is an easy and fun. Through discussing the mathematical concepts in a practical application, students make connections about the importance of math in their everyday activities and begin to engage in it and value it more. As you work with your child to openly question and explore maths in their everyday lives, your child will become more confident and move from simply ‘understanding’ a question to been more numerate problem solvers.

Exploring sports

Sports provide a good opportunity to engage your child in maths, particularly if they are a keen sportsperson. Here are some questions to ask your child when watching or playing their favourite sport:

  • How does your favourite sport tally the score?
  • What maths is presented on the tally?
  • How do other sports tally the score – for example, tennis, golf, cricket, netball, football?
  • What maths do you use to find the total of the scores?
  • Who is at the top of the ladder? How is this determined?
  • How long do your favourite sport games go for in minutes and seconds?
  • How is the time in the game divided? Into halves, quarters or something else?
  • What are the shapes of different playing fields and courts? Talk about edges and angles.
  • How can you estimate the perimeter and area of a playing field?
  • How many cars could be parked on the MCG field? How could we work this out?

Watching the weather

When considering the temperatures for the week and what activities your family may be doing or clothes to wear, discuss the maths about the weather with your child:

  • What is the difference between the temperature today and tomorrow?
  • What predictions can we make about the weather based on the temperature indicated?
  • Is there a pattern or trend in weather changes over a 7 day forecast?
  • How much rain are we getting compared to other areas or years?


Extending your child’s thinking through questioning can be done practically in cooking. Cooking involves measurement, time and cost:

  • Read recipes and discuss the use of fractions, millilitres and grams.
  • Encourage your child to make accurate measurements using the appropriate measuring tools. What could happen if too much of certain ingredients were added?
  • How would you double or halve the recipe? What would the new measurements and directions be?
  • Have your child consider temperatures. Why is the temperature indicated a good fit?
  • Convert the cooking time between hours/minutes/seconds.
  • Estimate the cost of purchasing the ingredients. Compare this with the actual cost (this can be done online). Were the differences surprising? Is it more financially beneficial to make or purchase this item from a takeaway store and why?

Public transport timetables

Enabling your child to read and possibly travel on public transport improves their problem solving skills and knowledge of time and organisation. When planning a trip, possible questions you could ask your child could be:

  • Where is the place on the timetable you will start from?
  • Where is the place on the timetable you will finish?
  • How long will it take you to get from start to finish?
  • Do you need to be at the finish by a particular time (e.g. for work)? If so, what starting point time will get you there on time?
  • Which is the best route to take? Why?
  • If you need to get back home, when will be the best time to leave and why?