Can you view these materials on a laptop?
Yes, there's no problem. They'll work on an iPad or on a laptop or desktop computer.
Are these materials suitable for 11+ preparation?
Yes, our materials are definitely of value here. Our materials are not specifically designed for 11+ practice : their central aim is to get young mathematicians into problem-solving, to provide plenty of problems which they will enjoy solving – and, of course, to build their problem-solving skills and to boost their confidence in using their imaginations to find different ways of looking at problems. Obviously skills like this (not to mention confidence) are great assets to any pupil faced with a competitive exam such as 11+ senior school entrance. This is more true than ever, now that both the National Curriculum and the Common Entrance Syllabus emphasise the value of problem-solving (a commitment which is reflected in exam papers at both 11+ and 13+).
Where to start? If you're not sure of your ability in this area or haven't done much problem-solving, perhaps it might be wise not to jump straight in to the 'no problem' book. Maybe a good starting-point would be to try working through the Year 5 Challenge Cards, then the Year 6 Challenge Cards – and then if that's gone really well, move on to 'no problem bk 1.'
Could an able pupil work through the 'no problem!' books on his / her own?
Confident and able pupils from 10 to 14 will enjoy working through the books. Less confident pupils are usually happier working with someone else. But take care : if you're a parent helping a child with these problems, get them to suggest ways of tackling the problems and perhaps gently nudge them along by asking suitable questions . . . but don't try to teach them your methods!
Are the Challenge Cards suitable for whole-class work?
The Challenge Cards were designed for whole-class work and have been used extensively in the classroom. Of course, they can also be used with individual children and the cards can be copied or emailed for class homework or distance learning.
I'm a parent buying for my child and hoping to help her. Do I need any specialist skills?
No you don't! As long as you have a positive attitude to maths and you're happy to let your child take the lead, you should be ok.
Are the Challenge Cards at the same difficulty level throughout the set?
Yes, they're more or less the same difficulty within each set but the topics vary.
You say children don't need a knowledge of algebra for these materials. But is it a good idea to teach them some algebra?
No – and no! Let them learn algebra at school at the same time as the others.
Would the 'no problem!' books be useful for a boy working towards a competitive 13+ exam, either a senior school entrance exam or a scholarship exam?
The answer here is : definitely yes – but don't make the exam the sole focus. Instead concentrate on enjoying the problems and the maths ideas in them; maths is a great subject and there's nothing quite like the pleasure and satisfaction to be gained by getting to grips with a new and unfamiliar problem and finding your own way of solving it. If you can get any boy or girl really absorbed in this activity, progress towards exam readiness will take care of itself.
If I purchase one of the 'no problem!' books, can I give my son just the questions and hang on to the answers until later?
Yes, you can. We supply you with three pdfs : a pdf of the whole book, a pdf of just the questions and a pdf of just the answers.
What's the best way to stretch a bright child's maths skills?
Just get them really interested in the subject! Problem-solving, maths games and maths investigations are all effective ways of developing a child's mathematical ability. The aim is to develop both their general feeling for the subject and their confidence, by getting them to be imaginative and creative in the way they use their existing skills. This is a better and more enjoyable approach than simply teaching them more and more topics from the next stage.
What do you mean by 'problem-solving'? Isn't all maths just problem-solving?
Sadly, a lot of what children spend their time on is the learning and practising of routine skills. These things have their place, of course, but by contrast problem-solving is about being creative and imaginative, about finding ways of using your existing skills and knowledge to handle the new and the unfamiliar. This is not just more enjoyable, it's more like what mathematicians do.
How much should you encourage children to set out their work neatly and carefully?
Solving maths problems usually involves trying out different approaches and so there should be a ready supply of paper for rough working (squared paper is really useful for the shape questions). Some young problem-solvers like to have a note-book to work in. Many children find it difficult to work neatly and they can easily be put off the whole venture if there's too much emphasis on neatness. All that really matters is that they should be able to keep track of what they're doing. Of course, if there are exams in the offing (eg 11+ or 13+ entrance exams), then it becomes more important for children to learn how to set out their thinking or show how they've solved a problem; it would be a pity if a young exam entrant found a way of solving a difficult problem and then lost marks because the marker couldn't make sense of their working-out. As well as learning how to solve problems, it's important for children to learn how to communicate their thinking; because of this, getting them to explain to you how they've solved this or that problem is a good thing. But – be nothing but patient, positive and encouraging! Above all, resist the temptation to show them a 'better way' of tackling the problem; you'll just succeed in crushing their willingness to trust their own ideas and initiative.
What's the best way to help my daughter with her maths homework? She seems to get a lot of problems she doesn't know how to solve.
First of all, it's good that you're taking an interest; that in itself is worth a lot to your daughter. Next, check out the obvious things which might be causing difficulty eg is your daughter setting about her homework at a time when she's just travelled home from school and is maybe tired / stressed, hungry or whatever. If there are no obstacles like these, then there are some definite ways in which you can help with the homework itself. Almost all children who struggle with maths say they find it more reassuring if they're not working on their own. So make the maths homework a joint effort. And make sure there's enough time for the activity, so your daughter doesn't feel under any pressure to finish quickly. A good way of going about things is to get your daughter to explain to you, in her own words, how she sees a particular maths problem. Ask her what kind of answer she thinks she's looking for. Then see whether she has any ideas of how to get started on the hunt for an answer. Absolutely resist the temptation to say,'this is how you do this sort of problem . . . ' After all, what you're trying to do is not just to get an answer to this particular problem but also to give her confidence in suggesting and trying out different possible approaches. You don't say what level your daughter's at, so our 'no problem!' books might well be too difficult a choice for extra practice; however, 'no problem! book 1' does have a useful middle section outlining a handful of suggestions for how to get started on a problem. Coming back to your daughter, if for example she's a Year 5 pupil, then download our Year 4 Challenge Cards and work through them with her. Don't be in a hurry to rush through them, either; do them just one or two at a time. After working through these, go on to the Year 5 Challenge Cards and gradually work through these. Try to be positive and encouraging throughout, and (if possible) to stay calm. And when your daughter, with or without much coaxing from you, has solved a problem, give her some praise and leave it at that : definitely do not start telling her how you would have gone about it, or how the problem could have been solved in two minutes using algebra. And if you manage to follow all the above suggestions, we can certainly promise that you'll become much better at problem-solving.
How do you use the 'no problem' book for distance learning? How exactly can you email separate pages to pupils?
Go to the page you wish to send and bring up your computer's print window – only don't print the page : instead, choose the save as pdf option in the print window, perhaps saving the page as eg np1_45 or whatever. So now you have a pdf of just this one page, which you can email to pupils as an attachment.
If you're working through one of the Challenge Cards sets, do you have to go through them in order?
No, definitely not. In fact, if pupils are marking their own work, it's better if they don't go through the cards in numerical order (for otherwise they'll easily see the answer to the next question).
What are the 'no problem!' book questions about? And, are the problems in these books all at the same difficulty level?
Well, in both books there are all kinds of problems : problems about number and about shape, as well as a variety of logic problems. There are also some problems about probability and statistics. Most of the questions are at roughly the same level of difficulty, although there are a few easier questions at the beginning and a handful of rather harder questions at the end.
I recognise the 'warrior' logo . . . Is there any connection between this website and the 'Maths Warriors' website which was around until two or three years ago?
Well spotted! And yes, you're absolutely right, we used to run the Maths Warriors website. Over time though, one or two others began using the 'Maths Warriors' or 'Math Warriors' name for websites which we had nothing to do with and which didn't really want to be associated with. In the end, we abandoned that website, along with the name, and later began work on the current venture – which, we hope you will agree, is altogether more stylish! The quality of the materials which many of you downloaded from the old site has of course been maintained in the new range of materials on offer here.