Savile Park Primary School

Headteacher: Mrs J Boylan

Algebra

In Year 6, your child will start learning about algebra. They will use simple formulae, will describe number sequences using letters as symbols, and will find unknowns in an equation.

How to help at home

There are lots of everyday ways you can help your child to understand algebra. Here are just a few ideas.

 

1. Practise basic algebra

Your child will have solved lots of problems involving missing numbers at school. Before Year 6, the unknown number in a calculation will have been represented using a blank box or a question mark. This will now be replaced by a letter, like a or b. This letter represents the unknown number, also known as the variable.

There are lots of ways you could help your child solve problems where there are one or more variables. For instance, why not play number puzzles such as the one below?

Each shape has a different value. The total value of the shapes in each column and row is shown at the end of the column or row. See if your child can work out the value of each shape and then work out the missing totals.

2. Play with sequences

Below are a few steps you can take to help your child get to know linear sequences:

  • Choose a sequence of five numbers. Try to begin with sequences of numbers in the times tables. For example, start with 3 and write down the next four next terms in the sequence: 3, 6, 9, 12, 15.
  • Can your child describe the number sequence? What is happening to the numbers in the sequence? In our example, the numbers are increasing by 3 each time, so there is a difference of 3 between each of the terms.
  • Ask your child to predict the next few numbers. They should see that they just need to add three to get the next term. Therefore, the next two numbers in the sequence would be 18 (15 + 3) and then 21 (18 + 3).
  • Can your child predict what the tenth number in the sequence would be? They could do this by adding on 3 ten times to reach 30.
  • Encourage your child to look at the relationship between the position of each term (for example, the 3rd number in the sequence) and the value of that term (for example, 9). They could make a table to help them identify patterns and find a general rule:

Because the number in the sequence is always the term multiplied by 3, this sequence can be written as the algebraic rule 3n.