homeschooling and maths

Brought to you by Westpac who is proud to offer Mathspace Essentials free for all Australians

The funny thing about being a homeschooler is that people have a lot of questions and/or misconceptions. When someone asks where your children go to school and you say the name of the school they  might say ‘oh I’ve heard of it’ ‘or ‘oh ok’ and that’s that. But when you say you’re a homeschooler, well you’ve just opened a can of worms and started a whole conversation. Are you a teacher? How do you teach the hard subjects? You must be really patient. What about socialisation? Are you anti – school? How will your child cope in the playground when they go back to school? (yes I got that question!), When do you get time for yourself? What if they fall behind and can’t catch up at school? I’ve heard of all these questions and more.

It is a big responsibility to take on the job of homeschooling. You are no longer just helping your child out with homework and getting them to school on time but you are now responsible for making sure they are learning, finding the curriculum or creating a curriculum, teaching and then marking work, keeping records and just keeping on top of it all whilst also keeping on top of family life. No small task. But it is actually fun, rewarding, brings the family closer together and everyone learns…..including you the parent.

You might have seen the statistics where Australia is falling behind in maths. In our homeschool we make maths and english a priority so that if/when they return to school they are not behind. In fact my goal is that they are ahead of grade level. To do this we set 4 pages of maths a day and completing tasks in an online program each week. Even if we had an outing planned or a busy day of appointments the maths and english books came with us. Starting out with that set in stone made my life easier and meant we didn’t fall behind. In fact, my son was doing year 3 maths while he was in Year 2 at home. And my daughter who once struggled with maths at school and refused to do the online tasks set by her teacher ended up sailing through the NAPLAN questions even though we’d been using a variety of different books and methods.

I am so glad that Westpac have partnered with Mathspace a leading online maths program to help your children with maths.  The Mathspace program has been winning awards and is considered the best online maths program. I have to admit that at home we’ve been using the online maths program that they used at school so I was interested in trying out Mathspace. We tried Mathspace Essentials in our homeschool for a few weeks and a few things I noticed that made it better than the online maths program we are currently using were:

  • You can watch video lessons made by real maths teachers whenever you get stuck, like this one

Mathspace - areaofcircle


  • You can do NAPLAN practice questions in the grades that NAPLAN is tested (3, 5, 7 and 9);

  • You can click on hints and get one and then another hint to help you solve the problem. This is a real confidence booster as it gives you a prompt to help rather than the big tick or cross you get in other maths programs; and

  • We could use it on the PC, tablet and smart phone and with handwriting recognition your child can write the answer and its then converted to type. We really liked this feature as it made it fun.

We made a little video of us using Mathspace at home and I have to tell you we took so many videos because little ones kept walking into the room, the baby would burp on my shoulder, other children were calling out to me from another room, we noticed a smudge on the computer, someone was eating in the background. But we got there eventually……

Overall, we are really impressed with the Westpac Mathspace program. The app is great for when we are ‘on the go’ as my big girl can be doing her maths while we’re out and about and then we can tick it off for the day. She found the questions got more challenging as she worked through them but was able to keep trying with the hints. We’ve been having trouble understanding angles and time always seems to be a bit tricky so it’s been great to watch the lessons and then have a go with the answers and I can’t rave enough about the hints – that’s usually what I have to sit and do so it’s great that she can read the hints and help solve the problems herself.

To try out Westpac Mathspace for yourself just visit here. Mathspace Essentials is easy to access online, across any device and all you need to do is sign up with an email address, create a password and you’re off. You don’t need to be a Westpac customer to take advantage of this offer. Once you have signed up you can select the country and state you are in (for Australia) so that it matches the curriculum for your state. You can also select your grade from year 3-12 and in year 11 and 12 there are further options (general, standard, advanced and extension).

And my top tips for teaching maths at home

  • You don’t need to be a teacher! Most maths programs come with teaching guides and answers are always provided plus you’ll be surprised how much you remember once you get started. Mathspace Essentials comes with videos that explain each topic so that your child can learn or revise the topic at home and then do practice questions on each topic after watching the video. 
  • If you start a resource or buy a book that isn’t working don’t be afraid to dump it and move on to something that engages your child.
  • Sometimes you might need to go back to basics rather than stick to where they should be at a school grade level. Don’t worry about this because it means that they’ll have a stronger base in maths to build on.
  • Online programs like Mathspace make maths fun, if someone in the family is refusing to sit down and do maths in a book then take it online.
  • When all else fails and there is a lot of anxiety and worry about maths then set aside half an hour in each day and sit side by side and go through the work together. This proved the only way I could get one little person to gain confidence in maths and do maths each day. Now she does her maths first thing in the day and comes to me when she gets stuck. It’s a huge improvement.



  1. Lots of good ideas there!Maths -hate it. Can’t help my own children with it, as taught totally different to how we were. They are shipped back to school to ask the teacher! (high school level now, but i’m stuffed from about year 4!) And I’m frustrated that different schools teach it differently ; that in primary levels (in NZ) it is a collaborative thing, with students working in groups helping each other; then they flick to high schools and it’s all individual with zero chat. Lots of NZ schools are at least teaching it culturally responsive to Maori and Pasifika using things / cultural examples that they can at least relate too now, which is awesome! (called Bobbie Maths or DMIC by Bobbie Hunter of Massey Unviersity).

    • yes the new methods can leave me confused! I’m very old school with carrying and borrowing the one and doing everything as a sum. My bigger kids have learnt this method and find it works better for them too!

  2. I’m really enjoying reading about your homeschooling journey and your tips and tricks. Its helping me gain confidence that I too could homeschool our youngest. She has some learning difficulties, we are currently looking into possible diagnoses, and she just isnt enjoying the noise and stress of school at all. Whereas my eldest is loving school and is a grade A student. I always say to people dont assume each child in a family will be like the other, they are so unique in their own ways and my two are just chalk and cheese in every way!

    • Oh I’m glad to hear that AND glad that it’s working. School is just so full on for kids these days and expects them to do so much at a young age. It’s great to have options….and then I have 2 kids who just love school and everything about it (including the canteen!)

  3. I have to admit I have always had a negative opinion of home schooling. However, having started helping in my daughters classroom it’s really made me realise how little one-on-one each child actually gets from the teacher. I imagine with home schooling you could spend an hour or two with each child and they will have had more individual tailored learning than in a day at school. It’s not something I’m considering but it has changed my opinion as to why people do it

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