Of all the core subjects, Maths is one of the most important for our daily lives. A good understanding of numbers is an essential life skill, allowing us to live independently and make sense of the world around us. For many children, Maths is a challenging subject. Indeed, recent research by the University of Cambridge has revealed that for some, the issue of ‘maths anxiety’ is very real. Researchers found that a fear of maths is experienced by pupils of all abilities, and it often starts at primary school age.
So what can teachers and parents do to prevent this and encourage an early love of numbers?
Here are five fun ways to help children fall in love with Maths.
When it comes to Maths teaching and learning, one size definitely doesn’t fit all. Children develop at different rates and while some enter primary school with early calculation skills, others develop these much later – and may need extra support to get there. Differentiating learning in Maths is important from the get-go. By delivering a personalised learning experience, teachers can ensure that every child feels confident with numbers and digital learning tools are a great way to deliver this. The award-winning Doodle Maths app uses adaptive technology to give every student a unique work programme that fills gaps in their knowledge, targets tricky topics and consolidates their learning. Tailored to individual needs, it instils confidence from a young age and helps every child to believe, “I can do this.”
When Maths gets tricky, students can quickly lose heart. But rewarding effort over ability is a great way to help children experience ongoing success. One of the best methods to achieve this is to recognise the amount of time children spend practising rather than their test scores. Digital learning platforms offer a range of tools to help teachers do this, helping them to track student effort. Classroom incentives such as stickers and certificates are also a great motivator, especially for younger children. You might even encourage the whole class to work together on a collective Maths problem and reward them with a fun end of term activity!
Keeping lessons fresh and exciting is just as important. And swapping traditional worksheets for interactive tools and games can help children to fall in love with Maths without even realising it! Tapping into kids’ love of technology, digital learning platforms allow children to access Maths on their own terms. By turning concepts such as division and multiplication into fun games, they balance fun with skills-building challenges. Dynamic digital learning tools can also build a healthy sense of competition and encourage fun peer to peer working.
It’s often said that practice makes perfect, and this is especially true in Maths, where ‘little and often’ can work wonders. Just ten minutes of daily practice can make a noticeable difference and apps that encourage students to log on regularly will strengthen this approach. Children often forget what they’ve learned in Maths, unless regularly reminded. So alongside traditional practice, teachers might reinforce a new idea by using it in different ways. When introducing basic algebra, for example, encouraging a variety of pattern-play – from interactive games to arts and crafts – can help children to grasp this tricky concept.
Maths is all around us and when children realise this, they often have their lightbulb moment! Understanding that Maths is everywhere, can make it feel more accessible and this also helps students to see its relevance to everyday life. There are lots of great resources which help children connect Maths to the real world. The National Numeracy charity has free activity ideas to explore numbers in everyday settings, while shopping, cooking or out and about. Taking Maths beyond the classroom walls is also the focus of Muddy Maths – Discovery Education Espresso’s innovative Maths resource for younger learners. Using a familiar forest school setting, Muddy Maths uses colourful videos to walk children through topics such as sorting, patterns and measures, building their confidence and fluency in the subject.
Every day children engage with Maths without even realising it. By making Maths relevant and fun, we can help every child to feel confident with numbers, and give them vital skills for life.
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