How to help your child with ratios

Ratios and proportion is a topic usually introduced to students in Key Stage 2. It is a topic which extends beyond primary school and is even in the syllabus for GCSE Mathematics. If your child is struggling with ratios, find our top tips below on how to help your child.

How can I help my child with ratios?

You will be interested to learn most children struggle with abstract new mathematical concepts due to poor mastery of prior prerequisite topics: ratios is no exception and mastery of ratios is dependent on several other topics listed below.

  • Students must understand 4 more than is different to 4 times than in numeracy questions as well as in equivalent fractions. It is a common misconception for students to mistake a ratio as an additive relationship rather than a multiplicative relationship. Focusing on developing this understanding is key to learning ratios effectively.
  • Without full mastery of basic multiplication and division, solving basic ratio questions will be impossible! Hence ensuring your child focuses on mastering basic times tables facts and understanding the relationship between the two opposite operations will mean they will not be struggling with basic arithmetic when they are attempting to learn new concepts.
  • Studies have shown students AND teachers have misconceptions of basic fractions.  Going back to basics and taking extra care to understand the purpose of a numerator and denominator in a fraction is vital. Children should learn 3/4 means 3 parts out of 4, they should also be able to explain 3/4 is 3 times larger than 1/4.
  • Allow your child the opportunity to think more deeply about mathematical ideas so they can form connections across old and new learnings. This is important as many students who struggle, learn methods rather than concepts, and attempt to apply the same methods to all ratio question they are faced with. You can develop your child’s curiosity in a number of ways including: giving your child an answer and asking them to write the question, encouraging your child to solve the problem in multiple methods, or asking your child to find the similarities/differences in the different methods.


For those who would like to read an in depth analysis on the study of why children struggle with ratios you can find the article here. Meanwhile, our 1 Day maths courses are a great option for any 10+ and 11+ student who struggle with ratios.  Alternatively, if you would like some recommended workbooks to help your child at home, the books below have been hand-picked by our team.


Key Stage 2