Why does my child say they’ve done ‘nothing’ every day?

Why does my child say they’ve done ‘nothing’ every day?

Hands up if your child has ever told you they did ‘nothing’ at school or pre-school? I’m fairly sure this happens 99% of the time to everyone who asks the question. It’s true in our household despite having a super chatty three year old and it happens in all of my friend’s houses with a wide range of children’s ages. It’s not true, school isn’t some sort of magic void where they go for six hours, float about doing nothing and then come home completely starving and still full of energy! 

So why does it happen?

The truth is that actually every day is action packed, and it’s so full that children feel quite overwhelmed by the end of the day and actually don’t really want to talk you through every part of it. Certainly not straight after they have walked out of the gates! Let’s be honest, when you arrive home after a day at work or out being busy do you really want to tell your partner or family member all about it? And can you actually remember all of the things you have done? Chances are no, very often I answer my husband’s routine “How was your day?” question with ‘fine’ or ‘good’ or another single adjective that really gives him no idea what actually happened. Children are no different and they often just don’t want to talk about it at that point.

What have they been doing?

Children in all settings will have done loads. In Primary School they will have probably had four lessons or more, register, break time, lunch, a story, group work, independent work and I could go on. On average they might have been expected to sit and listen to an adult for two hours of their day (not all in one go) which is heavy going especially if you’re only four! They might have had a disagreement with a friend, they might have found something too hard or too easy, they might have learnt something completely mind blowing for them and what they are really looking forward to is seeing you and allowing the day to mellow in their minds a little.

But I want to know, what can I do?

I’m not suggesting that you never ask how your child’s day was or look for information about what they have been doing. I’m just suggesting trying to get the answers in a different way. Here are my three top tips:

 Don’t ask straight away: Try not asking your child a question as soon as you see them. Instead say “I’ve missed you,” or “It’s been such a sunny day today,” basically anything that doesn’t require an answer. Give you child time to talk to you or not. Then ask them about their day later on, maybe when they are at home having a snack, playing or in the bath. Dinner time often works really well if you are able to sit with them. Find a time which suits you and make it part of your routine to talk about their day at a certain time as long as it’s not on your way home!

Tell them about your day first: This is great for two reasons. Firstly, you are modelling the talk. You can show your child how to talk about their day. Tell them what you did, what you ate, who made you laugh, what parts were hard or easy. That way when it is their turn to talk, they will have some ideas about what to say. Secondly, you are sharing the questions so all of the pressure isn’t on them and you are showing them that it’s good to be interested in everyone’s day, not just the Spanish inquisition about theirs!

Ask interesting questions: How was your day? Is fairly boring, is it any wonder we get answers like ok, fine, yeah etc? Try mixing it up with things that make them think: What was your favourite part about today? Did you help anyone today? What was the funniest/ most interesting thing your teacher said today? Did you solve any problems? Who did you sit next to at lunchtime?

The good thing about these questions is that they require full answers and are likely to spark discussion. Try to keep them positive, especially if your child is finding school or pre-school hard. If you lead with ‘How was your day’ and they say bad. You get into a ‘what was bad and why’ spiral. There may indeed have been one small part that wasn’t great and it’s good to talk about that but try to highlight the positives by asking interesting questions and helping them to see the good bits too.

Good luck finding the key to your little one’s needs when talking about their day and I hope you find a way to feed your curiosity to know all of the wonderful details about what they have done for a whole day without you. 

Em x

Place Value

Place Value

Place Value is a vital part of maths learning for children. It can also include the prase ‘partitioning’ which I will explain briefly too.

Simply: Place value is the value of a digit (single number) depending on it’s place or position in a number. This involves children understanding ones, tens, hundreds and larger numbers.

Children start to learn basic place value for teen numbers from Reception but they might not call it place value For example in the number 13, there are 3 ones and 1 ten. Knowing that the 1 is a ten is place value understanding. They will start to learn it more formally in Year 1 with larger numbers. Place Value learning also includes decimals which children start to learn in Year 4 of Primary School.

Here’s a number with hundreds, tens and ones.

Children will learn that in the number above 4 is ‘4 ones’ (you might know this as units but we now call it ones so it doesn’t get confused with units of measurement such as cm, ml etc.) The 1 is ‘1 ten’ and the 6 is 6 hundreds. This understanding about the value of each number depending on it’s position is a valuable part of understanding how numbers work together and will be used so much when children start calculating.

In school your child will have lots of different methods that help them to see the place value in numbers. There are grids, pictures, cards, models and concrete resources (this means things you can touch and hold, like toys really. Don’t ask me why it’s called concrete resources, none are made from concrete, another bit of jargon nonsense just to confuse you!)

Here is a place value grid which shows a table with the different values at the top. Numbers could be written in each box so children can see what each one is worth. This one has decimals, grids for children in year 1 might just have tens and ones, grids in year 2 would have hundreds too. Decimals wouldn’t come in until year 4.

Place value cards or arrow cards are really useful to help children to see the value of each number. They are simply cards with the ones, tens and hundreds on (you can get larger ones and decimals too!) and they fit together with a point or arrow at one side.

Here’s a little video showing place value cards in action:

This is a good point to quickly mention ‘Partitioning.’ It’s probably enough for a blog post by itself but useful to know that simply: partitioning means separating numbers out into smaller parts. So, in the video above, the arrow cards help us to separate 245 into 200, 40 and 5 or 2 hundreds, 4 tens and 5 ones. Partitioning is used to help children when they are calculating. It’s easier to separate numbers to make them smaller first than add them as large ones.

Here is an example of a resource that children might use in school to help with place value. It’s called Big Ten, there are similar things called Base Ten and Dienes. They show the ones as single cubes, the tens as long blocks with ten cubes and hundreds as large cuboids with 100 cubes joined together. They help children to visualise the numbers and get used to counting in ones, tens and hundreds. Can you work out what each number is in the pictures below?

I’m sure you got them all correct but if you want to check… the first is 23 (2 tens and 3 ones) the second is 134 (1 hundred, 3 tens and 4 ones) and the lst is 234 (2 hundreds, 3 tens and 4 ones.)

If you are keen to help at home you might not want to buy any specific resources but using grids/ drawing tables like at the top of the blog can be helpful to show your child which column the numbers go in. You can use small objects at home to count groups of tens and then extras as ones. Money is a great way to show place value; seeing that 10p is 10 x 1p and that £1 is 100 x 1p is a really good learning point for children.

Place Value Book!

If you would like to buy something to help with Place Value at home we recommend this book. It’s sort of a story and it’s funny! It helps to show place value through some funny monkeys making a cake! There are large numbers in it but children from year 2 onwards should love it (or earlier if you like exposing them to big ideas.) Books about maths are a great way to get conversations started and might be different to the maths they see at school.

We hope this has helped to explain a bit about place value and how your child will learn at school. We will be posting more ideas for practising at home on Istagram (all vids etc in highlights,) facebook and pinterest. If you have any questions or if you would like a printable place value grid just drop us a message here or email us. Please tell us the age of your child so we can make sure the grid is suitable. 

Facts for Free (I love free!)

Facts for Free (I love free!)

Here comes another maths phrase to confuse you. But fear not, it’s really easy when you know how. There are free facts and free is always good! These can also be called Fact Families.

Simply – a group of sums using the same three numbers. Facts for free (or fact families) are a way of helping children to see where they can use a number fact to help them know answers to other facts. For example if we know 8 add 2 makes 10, then we also know that 2 add 8 makes 10. That’s a fact for free, easy!

2+8=10 is a fact for free, yay!

You can find facts for free with subtraction too. With subtraction a useful tip is that the biggest number always has to go at the start. If children find this tricky to understand use objects to start with a total and then take an amount away. They will see that you can’t take 8 from 2 as there aren’t enough.

Here is 10 – 8 = 2 and the fact for free:

10-2=8 is the fact for free, yippee!


For each number sum there are always 3 facts for free because you can use the additions and the subtractions (the inverse.) The inverse means the opposite operation (operation is the process so +, -,x and ÷) If you are adding then the inverse is to subtract and vice versa.

Here are all the facts for free from 8+2=10. Oh and 8 and 2 are also number bonds to 10!


Facts for free are really helpful, they can add an ‘easiness’ to maths if children understand how to use them properly. If a child isn’t confident to subtract for example 10 – 4, but they know that 6 + 4 makes 10 then they will be able to use this to fill in the gaps. The numbers 10, 6 and 4 can be used in lots of ways. It’s really important that children know that in subtraction sums the biggest number must always come first otherwise they will get confused and might think 6-4=10.


Children will start to learn about facts for free and the inverse of adding and subtracting in Reception, although they might not call it this aged 4! They will start to explore adding sets of objects together and some children might enjoy writing the sums to match. In Year 1 and 2 they will learn to use these skills with larger numbers. 

More difficult Maths:

Facts for free can also be used when multiplying or dividing. Numbers can be swapped around and we can use the inverse as I talked about above. Don’t panic, this isn’t taught in Reception. Counting in 10’s is taught in year 1 and then more multiplication and divsion in year 2.

Can you work out a fact for free from 6 x 10 = 60?

The main fact for free is 10 x 6 = 60

Using the inverse of multiplying you can divide to find facts for free. When dividing you have to put the biggest number first (just like with subtraction.)


How can you help your child to understand and use facts for free as part of their maths ‘toolkit?’

Facts for free can be used alongside lots of other games and maths discussion. It’s a phrase you can use when talking about maths with your child. You could set up some magnetic numbers and see if children can alter them around to make all of the facts for free just like the pictures above. You could say a fact and children earn a point for each fact for free that they can tell you.

Below is a link to an online game where children can put the numbers and symbols into a grid to show all of the facts for free with a set of 3 numbers. You can help them to choose how difficult it is including adding and subtracting or multiplying and dividing.



We hope this has helped you to understand more about ‘facts for free’ or ‘fact families’. There are more ideas on our instagram page for how to help your children at home. Any questions ask us in the comments or contact us via instagram!

Number Bonds

Number Bonds


Let’s start with what ‘Number Bonds’ are.

Simply – a number bond is a pair of numbers. Think bond = glue/link. The bonds are two numbers which make another number. So 2 and 1 are a number bond that makes 3.

The most common number bonds that are taught are Number bonds to 10, Number bonds to 20 and Number bonds to 100. Here we are just going to focus on bonds to 10. Children will start learning these number facts from Reception and will really focus on bonds to 10 in Year 1 and 2.

There are 11 different number bonds to 10:

These are all of the number bonds to 10.


That’s just adding I hear you cry!! Yes, you are right it is adding but it’s adding special sets of numbers. Number bonds are important because if they are learnt well they can hold the key to children (and adults) knowing lots of number facts automatically. If we know all of our number bond to 10 it means we can add up in our heads without having to worry about counting on our fingers. Lots of maths jargon links to knowing facts and having a good memory for them.

Here 2 and 8 are bonds to 10


Being tasked with helping your child to learn number bonds, if you have no flipping clue what they are, is no mean feat! Don’t panic, number bonds can be learnt in lots of fun ways and with objects at home or some specialist maths resources. Here are a few practical ideas to help your child learn their number bonds and also a fun online game!

Free stuff:

Missing Number bonds – Set up some objects or draw some on paper, you could use stickers too if you’re a crafty sort. Ask your child to find out how many more they need to make 10 (or whichever number you are trying to find bonds to.)

For example, “There are three cups but we need 5, how many more do we need?” That’s a number bond to 5! Knowing the amounts is more important than writing the numbers down but if you want to you can write the matching sum for them or they can write it as 3 + 2 = 5. The picture on the right needs 3 + 7 = 10!

Out and about – spot numbers or sets of objects and ask what goes with the number to make 10 (or another number bond.) “There are three birds in the tree, what does 3 go with to make 10?”

Number Bond shop – Set up a shop and ask your child to spend 10p or 20p. Find ten items and write prices on them. You will need a 1p,2p,3p,4p two 5ps, 6p,7p,8p and 9p. They have to spend 10p each time so they can choose the two items that go together to make 10p, for example beans are 7p and cucumber 3p. Make sure you have two things that are 5p if you want them to find all of the pairs!

Bits to buy:

Magnetic number sets – You can buy maths sets pretty cheaply which can be used to practise number bonds, magnetic ones are good if you have a fridge or magnetic white board at home. This sort of thing: Magnetic Set

I’ve seen cheaper versions in the supermarkets too! This is just an example. You can also use magnetic numbers to set up the sums.

Use the pictures or numbers to set up sums that your child can finish. You could give options for the answers like here:

Here they can choose which number goes in the space.

Or in the pictures below they can write in the spaces.

Numicon – Numicon is a great resource if you want to invest in something for home. Basically Numicon is different coloured shapes for each number. You can match the numbers together to make 10 (number bonds to 10.) You can get a simple kit for about £30 or splash out on an ‘at home kit’ for about £50 which gives games and ideas to use. 

Here are some links to easy online games.

Save the whale is a free online game to help remember those bonds up to 10. You can change the total number using the arrows so children in Reception could practise bonds to 5.

Funky Mummy lets you choose the right answers for number bond sums. This game has loads of different settings so you can practise bonds to 20, adding, subtracting and even halving and doubling.

Hit the Button is a timed game where you have to choose the right number to make 10. This game also has options to practise other maths skills.

We hope this has helped to demystify number bonds in some way. There are more ideas on our instagram page for how to help your children learn these valuable facts. Any questions ask us in the comments or contact us via instagram!


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