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Doing it at home;Primary;Reviews;Mathematics;Books

HODDER HOME LEARNING:Complete Maths (age 5-7). By Rhona Whiteford and Jim Fitzsimmons. pound;6.99.

MATHS FOR THE BRIGHTER CHILD AGE 7-9. By Rhona Whiteford and Jim Fitzsimmons. MENTAL ARITHMETIC AGE 7-9. By Bill Gillham. Hodder pound;2.99 each.

HOME MATHS. By Anita Straker. Starter Book, Home Maths 1, Home Maths 2, Home Maths 3, HOME MATHS EXTENSION BOOK. Cambridge pound;3.25 each. LET'S LEARN AT HOME: Maths Ten Steps to Improve your Child's... Counting, Times Tables (ages 6-7); Adding and Subtracting, Times Tables (ages 7-8); Adding and Subtracting, Fractions (ages 8-9). By Ian Gardner. Scholastic pound;2.99 each. LEARN TIMES TABLES. Ladybird pound;2.99. TEST TIMES TABLES. Ladybird pound;1.99. Both by Wendy and David Clemson. TABLES, FACTS AND FIGURES. By Jacqueline Dineen. Ladybird pound;1.99. TIMES TABLES POSTER. Ladybird pound;1.99.

These home-learning maths books range from the formal closed "back to basics" type to those more in sympathy with the flexible and open "own-methods" learning philosophy of the National Numeracy Project.

Hodder's Home Learning series is in the former camp. Complete Maths is a compendium of books first published several years ago. Three of the four sections cover number operations through a regime of rather dull closed exercises and "tests" redeemed a little by the fourth section - archaically entitled "Weights and Measures" - which offers more open, practical activities.

Maths for the Brighter Child and Mental Arithmetic are no better. The former provides work that is just harder rather than more thought-provoking, and the latter disregards the need for children to develop a flexible repertoire of mental calculation strategies. The only method offered for finding the answer to 72 V 6, for example, is to "run through your 6 times table until you reach 12 x 6".

In contrast, Cambridge's Home Maths books for seven to 11-year-olds provide a mixture of simple but challenging activities and games - with an emphasis on mental calculation strategies - that children can dip into to do alone or with family and friends. These are interspersed with sets of mental maths questions. Book 3 and the extension book include useful glossaries.

Scholastic's attractive Let's Learn at Home series falls between the two extremes. Children will enjoy the activities and the full-colour card pull-out section. The progress charts and merit stickers and the objectives in child-speak at the start of each "step" will provide a clear sense of structure and purpose. There is a welcome emphasis on parental or carer involvement.

Ladybird offers two fairly innocuous books and a colourful tables poster aimed at five to seven-year-olds. Learn Times Tables and Test Times Tables contain typical workbook fodder on the 2, 3, 4, 5 and l0 times tables. Tables, Facts and Figures is an attractive hardback pocket book that will appeal to older children.

Paul Harrison is a former headteacher and co-author of Nelson Maths and Maths 2000 published by Nelson

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