At SATs level, children are expected to identify patterns, predict sequences and use multi-step operations to answer questions. These all require good problem-solving ability. In this article, we offer some advice on improving your child’s problem-solving skills for both Key Stage 1 and Key Stage 2 SATs.
While some children might initially struggle with problem solving, the good news is that you can incorporate this type of learning into your everyday life. Problem solving for SATs can be practiced both at home and when you’re out and about with the family.
Problem solving isn’t just confined to the Maths SATs. Children need to have a good understanding of working out problems in a range of scenarios.
At KS1, it’s a good idea to create stories with your children in an effort to use their imagination and get them used to creating a structured tale, with a beginning, middle and end. This can be done anywhere and at any time, but children are often more imaginative when outside, so take a walk to the local park or beach to help stimulate their Creativity.
Similarly, when out and about, children love to collect objects such as pine cones or shells. Rather than throw them away when you get home, consider using them for maths games. These objects are ideal for counting and sorting games, so ask your child questions to get them thinking about solving simple problems.
In the Year 2 Maths SATs, children will be tested on the four main mathematical operations: addition, subtraction, multiplication and division. Using simple games with objects your child has found will make this type of learning more fun, thereby increasing your child’s motivation.
For KS2 SATs taken in Year 6, children must show the ability to solve multi-level problems. These problems will have more than one ‘step’, meaning children must use multiple operations in order to work out the answer.
Children at KS2 will sit three maths SATs papers, one in arithmetic and two in reasoning. Across all three papers, children will have to show their multistep problem-solving skills in some way. Children will be tested on measures, questioned about money calculations and will be required to use fractions, decimals and percentages.
You can encourage SATs problem solving learning at home by setting your child the task of cooking a meal for your family. This will require them to think about meal planning and budgeting, two tasks that might feature in KS2 SATs. Choose a recipe together, provide your child with a budget and buy the ingredients. Children should be thinking about how many people will be eating, the budget and any dietary requirements.
Next, your child should work out timings for preparation and cooking. Time intervals are a key problem-solving exercise, as children must give their answers in minutes and/or hours. A typical question could be:
It is 4.05 pm. Food preparation will take 35 minutes and it takes 55 minutes to cook. What time will we be eating dinner?
Using meals as a problem-solving exercise can be an enjoyable task for older children, as it doesn’t feel like standard learning and can increase their confidence as an independent thinker.
Of course, maths isn’t just about counting and sums, children also need to be good at thinking visually and be able to solve problems with patterns and shapes. Using collected objects, you can make a group and ask your child to spot the odd one out. In this task, they will have to think about colour, shape, pattern and size.
All of these activities can be done again and again and when incorporated into a child’s normal routine, can be fun and interesting. Implementing this advice at home will encourage your child to improve their problem-solving skills and help get them prepared for their SATs.
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