Do you want to improve your children’s Maths? If so you have plenty of options to explore – from free online support to private Maths tuition. Find out what’s best for you and your child.
So you want to help your kids get ahead in Maths. After all, Maths is a subject that’s crucial for many careers (not to mention everyday life!)
But many children struggle with it. You want to help your child achieve their best at school – but many of us don’t feel confident in our own mathematical ability. What’s more, Maths often seems to be taught very differently to how we were taught it at school.
There are plenty of homework help sites out there
What, then, are your options for improving your child’s Maths tuition?
Contact your school for Maths homework help
Many schools have specific resources for children who are struggling in core subjects. In particular, it’s worth inquiring to see if they run any breakfast clubs, after-school classes or summer schools. See our article on extended schools for more information.
Free online Maths homework help
There are a number of excellent free websites that offer Maths worksheets, games, and activities that you can work through with your child.
- BBC Bitesize offers some great educational games, activities and revision resources from Key Stage 1 to GCSE level Maths. Kids can work through the exercises by themselves or you can sit in to give them a hand.
- Topmarks has a well-ordered Maths games and resources section with activities suitable for ages ranging from 3-16 years old.
- Mathsphere has plenty of free Maths worksheets and Maths games for children aged 5-11 years old.
- Worksheet Genius lets you create your own Maths worksheets quickly and easily.
- Skoool has an impressive selection of Maths lessons, notes, tests and games based on Key Stages 1-4.
More suggestions on free online maths homework help.
Online Maths tuition (paid)
Mathletics is an online Maths tutoring program that aims to make Maths fun and engaging. It lets kids work through thousands of online games and exercises at their own pace (all of which are tailored to the National Curriculum).
Suitable for ages 5-18, Mathletics records your child’s performance and sends you reports of their progress. (For instance you might find out from Mathletics that your child is very good at addition and subtraction, but struggles with division. You could then work on that area together or with your child’s teacher).
You can adjust the level of Maths difficulty for your child and there is a Parent’s Support Centre
If you struggle to get your child enthused about Maths tuition, putting Maths in a computer game format certainly helps. Kids get awarded points for every exercise they complete, which can be saved up to ‘buy’ rewards and achievements for their online Mathletics profile.
- Computer game format makes online Maths tuition far more exciting and enjoyable than paper worksheets and books.
- Kids can get on with using Mathletics by themselves, freeing you from having to set and mark Maths tasks yourself.
- The automatic reports on your child’s progress (showing you how they are scoring on each topic) and the Parent’s Support Centre are very handy.
- There are online Maths games and exercises that are available for free (though you don’t get reports monitoring your child’s progress with these free sites)
- You have to pay a separate rate for each child (though group discounts are available)
How much does it cost?
A 12-month subscription costs £39 for one child, £69 for two children, and £99 for three children. Further group discounts available.
Maths Whizz is another online Maths tutoring program similar to Mathletics.
Aimed at 5-13-year-olds, like Mathletics it covers all the main areas of the National Curriculum and (again like Mathletics) aims to make Maths more fun and engaging through the use of interactive games and tasks.
Interactive games can be a good way to get kids engaged with Maths
Maths Whizz is quite good at detecting the right difficulty level for your child’s Maths ability on different topics (and adjusting it accordingly). When you pass a test on a topic the next lesson moves up a stage in difficulty. If you fail, the next lesson automatically drops a difficulty level. This means you don’t have to constantly check whether your child is struggling, and it’s also good if your child is stronger in some areas of Maths (e.g. addition) than others (e.g. division).
Maths Whizz say that by using the site for 90 minutes a week, the average child improves their ‘Maths Age’ (similar to Reading Age) by two years during the first year of usage. However some younger children may struggle to do 90 minutes a week on top of their schoolwork.
- Computer game format is effective at getting kids enthusiastic about online Maths tuition
- Kids can get on with using Maths Whizz by themselves, freeing you from setting and marking work yourself
- It’s quite good at automatically detecting your child’s level of Maths ability and setting tasks appropriate to that level
- Whizz Maths covers topics in slightly more depth than Mathletics, explaining how to do tasks in more detail. Some younger kids also find it more appealing.
- There are Maths games and exercises that are available online for free (though you don’t get reports monitoring your child’s progress)
- Not the cheapest option, and more expensive than Mathletics.
How much does it cost?
Maths Whizz costs £19.99 a month of £149 per year. If you have more than one child you have to pay for a separate account for each.
EdPlace offers interactive Maths worksheets. You can complete them online but they also have many that can be printed out and completed with pen and paper.
Many of the online worksheets have teacher video run-throughs of the questions, which is a useful tool in helping your child (provided you think they will bother watching them!)
Reward your kids with treats for doing extra Maths to help keep them motivated
As a parent you choose which worksheet topics to assign your child. You have a separate parent log-in which lets you do this, as well as see which worksheets your child has completed and their test scores on each one. You can also set rewards for your kids here (e.g. complete five worksheets and get an hour on the Xbox). Your child gets points for completing each exercise, and EdPlace lets them know how close they are to achieving their reward, which helps keep them keen.
- Easy to use for both parents and kids
- Interactive worksheets are clear and well-structured
- The online ‘points and reward’ system acts as a good incentive and helps keep kids motivated
- Relatively cheap
- Not as flashy as the (more expensive) Maths Whizz
- You need to assign worksheets to your child manually (though the program makes recommendations based on your child’s previous scores).
How much does it cost?
£8 a month or £64 a year per child.
You can also try some sample worksheets for free on the site, or get full access to the site for 14 days for just £1 – a good way to tell if it’s right for you and your kids.
Conquer Maths is an online Maths program designed to teach Maths to those aged from 4-18-years-old using materials developed in line with the National Curriculum.
The site first diagnoses your child’s strengths and weaknesses through interactive Maths problems; then it allows kids to go through video lessons (which are very clear and well put together) at their own pace. Conquer Maths then tests what students have learnt, and their results are stored by the programme to act as an on-going progress report.
Conquer Maths also provides fully worked solutions to each question, showing each step students need to take to reach the right answer (very useful for the more complex questions at higher levels).
- The diagnostic tests are good, showing students where their weaknesses lie and how they can improve them (the site recommends specific lessons to help get them up to speed)
- It’s good at letting kids work at their own pace – you can stop (or restart) lessons at will to digest a particular point.
- Parents can see exactly how their child is doing by logging into the Parent Dashboard.
- Relatively cheap, especially if you sign up more than one child
- The presentation and animation isn’t as flashy as other programs like Maths Whizz. This isn’t such an issue with older children, but younger kids might be more drawn to flashier sites.
- The learning is quite heavily video-based. The videos are very good, but different children learn in different ways – some might prefer more written interaction.
- Will work best for students who are motivated to learn, but will likely be of less help to kids who aren’t.
- Probably better suited to older kids (those aged 12 and over).
How much does it cost?
£15.95 a month or £99 a year for one child; £21.95 a month or £139 a year for two children; £27.95 a month or £169 a year for three children. You can try some lessons for free before you buy.
Explore Learning are a company that run over 70 learning centres across the UK dealing in extra Maths and English tuition for 5-14 year-olds. Many of their centres are based in Sainsbury’s supermarkets, allowing parents to drop off their kids while they do the weekly shop.
Many parents can’t speak highly enough of Explore Learning, while others have found the centres to be lacking. As with most educational tools, different methods can suit different children.
It’s important to know exactly what you’re getting with these centres. The extra tuition Explore Learning offers is largely computer-based, though tutors do work through with pupils on a one-to-one basis to help them work through Maths problems (there are six children for every tutor).
The tutors are not qualified teachers (they are often people studying Maths at A-level or university – but it’s worth bearing in mind that many home tutors are not qualified teachers, either).
In other words, a bit of a halfway house: it’s not the same as having a dedicated tutor, but equally it offers more than just sitting a child in front of a computer.
Explore Learning prices vary between £98-£109 a month, depending on location. Many families can receive discounts if they are eligible for Childcare Vouchers, Working Tax Credit or Income Support – or have more than one child attending.
Each Explore Learning session lasts one hour 15 minutes, and kids can do up to two sessions a week. That works out at roughly £12.25 a session. That’s cheaper than most home tutors – but don’t expect the same intensive tutoring as a one-to-one tutoring session.
If you’re not sure, you can take your child along for a free trial and see whether it suits you and your child.
- Provides supervised extra tuition that’s cheaper than most home tutors
- The centres monitor and mark your child’s progress so you don’t have to
- You can drop off the kids for a session without booking ahead, making it convenient choice for busy parents
- Although it costs less than most home tutors, there are cheaper ways to help boost your child’s Maths
- The exercises are heavily computer-based, which doesn’t suit all children
How much does it cost?
Between £98-£109 a month.
Kumon have nearly 700 learning centres across the UK. Kumon students normally visit their local centre once or twice a week and are given homework to take back for the other days.
It’s heavily worksheet based, and most instructors aren’t teachers. (The quality of instructors at different centres can vary considerably – some are excellent, others are not so great).
Although your child will receive support from instructors, it’s up to you as the parent to actually mark the worksheets and ensure that your child does all the homework that’s assigned to them.
Learning centres vary in the level of support they offer
Lastly, the Kumon worksheets tend to focus on improving mental arithmetic – but the development of Maths problem-solving skills is a bit thin. As a result, topics like geometry, data handling and Maths investigation tend to be sidelined.
- Your child is supported by learning centre staff
- Worksheets are clear and kids can work at their own pace
- Kids can usually complete the homework worksheets without being supervised
- Learning centre staff offer only limited contact time
- You have to mark your kids homework and ensure that it gets done
- The worksheets can be repetitive – a lot of kids get bored with this style of learning
How much does it cost?
Prices vary according to area, but expect to pay at least £50 a month per child (plus a one-off registration fee, which is usually around £15).
Kip McGrath has over a hundred learning centres across the UK. They offer Maths tutoring for primary and secondary school students up to GCSE level.
Unlike Kumon and Explore Learning, Kip McGrath only employ fully qualified teachers. They also boast small class sizes, with one teacher for every five students. Although there is some one-on-one tutoring, your child will spend the majority of their time being supervised in a (small) group. Lessons take place once a week and last 80 minutes.
If you’re looking at learning centres, try and talk to parents who have used your local centre before handing over your money
The Kip McGrath centres are quite good at creating a structured, individual learning programme that’s suitable for your kids. The centres also keep things varied for kids with a wide range of resources. Unlike the worksheet-based approach of Kumon, Kip McGrath centres provide a real mix of tutoring, written work and computer-assisted learning which helps keep things fresh for children. It also means that they can tailor their teaching methods to the individual learning style of your child.
However, although Kip McGrath only employ qualified teachers, bear in mind the teachers can vary in quality enormously. In other words, a Kip McGrath centre is only as good as the teachers it employs. This means that while some centres are excellent, some may be average or worse. It’s worth checking out your local centre (your child can get a free tutoring assessment) and seeking out the opinion of other parents who use (or have used) the centre.
- Fully qualified teachers
- Small group sizes
- Wide range of resources to suit your child’s needs, which can make tuition genuinely enjoyable for them
- Centres are only as good as the teachers they employ
- Not cheap – can cost as much (or even a bit more) than some private tutors
How much does it cost?
Lessons cost £27 each (as lessons last 80 minutes that is equivalent to an hourly rate of £20.25).
Tutlings – online tutor database
Tutlings is an online database of home tutors. It allows you to browse tutors by location, the subjects they teach, and the prices they charge. It also lists other useful information, such as their qualifications and experience, whether they’ve been CRB checked or not, and if they’re willing to travel.
(Remember that all qualifications – including the CRB check – are ‘self-declared’ by tutors, and are NOT checked by the site. Therefore always ask to see proof of a tutor’s qualifications before the first lesson as a matter of course).
Tutors set their own fees – so there’s no standard agency rate. (Most tutors on the site seem to charge between £10-£20 an hour).
Tutlings.com is an excellent idea. The site is well laid out and easy to use. But it’s far from perfect. Most of the tutors registered on the site are concentrated in London and the big cities at the moment. If you don’t live in a big city, you may struggle to find more than a couple of tutors (if that) near you.
Also, as the site hasn’t been running long, there are barely any reviews of tutors on the site. However many tutors offer their first lesson for free or half-price, so to some extent you can ‘try before you buy’.
- Site allows both tutors and parents to sidestep expensive agency fees, making home tuition more affordable.
- Many tutors offer free or half-price ‘taster’ lessons.
- Most tutors are concentrated in the big cities.
- Few tutors have reviews at the moment.
How much does it cost?
The site is free to use. Most tutors on it charge between £10-£20 an hour.
First Tutors – online tutor database
First Tutors is similar to Tutlings – an online database of home tutors. In fact it does everything that Tutlings does, but as it has been going longer it has a bigger database of tutors.
However, the site does charge a small fee for its service. It is free to browse and even to email tutors to discuss your child’s requirements and what they can offer – but if you then book a tutor for a lesson, the site does charge a one-off introduction fee of between £4.99-£19.99 (the size of the charge is linked to the tutor’s hourly fee).
In return for your fee, First Tutors will send references and perform an identity check on the tutor.
Always remember to ask for proof of qualifications from a tutor
Tutors on the site charge anything from £8-£35+ an hour, depending on their experience and qualifications.
(As with Tutlings, remember to ask for proof of any qualifications before the first lesson).
- No expensive agency fees.
- Larger selection of tutors than Tutlings, which is easy to search.
- You do have to pay a one-off fee if you hire a tutor through the site.
- Most tutors do not offer free or half-price ‘taster’ lessons, unlike Tutlings.
Always see what extra help is available from your school
How much does it cost?
It’s free to contact tutors through the site, but if you book a lesson you get charged a one-off introduction fee of between £4.99-£19.99. Tutors on the site charge anything from £8-£35+ an hour.
HometutorsDirectory.co.uk is another online database of tutors that is similar to Tutlings and First Tutor.
The site is free to use and worth looking at – but it’s not as well designed as the others, and it’s not as easy to search for what you’re looking for. It also doesn’t include some important information (such as whether a tutor has a CRB check or not).
- Allows you to sidestep expensive agency fees
- Free to use
- Site is not well designed
- Doesn’t include some important information (such as CRB check status)
What option should I go for?
The answer to this depends on several factors:
- How much help your child needs
- The way in which your child learns
- How much you are able to spend
- What resources are available locally (e.g. what your child’s school offers, whether you live near a learning centre or a decent private tutor, and so on).
- Where to get free homework help
- English homework help
- Extended schools and learning resources for children
If you want to improve your child’s Maths, the first step is to talk to their school. They may well offer free learning clubs and resources, and can also discuss your child’s learning style with you and what methods of teaching would work best. Schools can also be a good source of information if you’re looking for a decent home tutor.
When it comes to online Maths support, the best way to find out which programs engage your child is to try them – try the free (or low-cost) trials and see how they get on.
A good home tutor can work wonders in improving a child’s Maths, but they are the most expensive option. However if you can’t afford that, don’t despair – there are some excellent free Maths sites, paid online support and extended schools opportunities out there, all of which can make a huge difference to your child’s Maths development.