But how can parents help their children to enjoy maths?
Carey Ann Dodah, Head of Curriculum at Explore Learning says: “If I got a penny for the amount of times I have heard people say, ‘Oh I’m awful at maths’ or ‘I’m not a maths person’ with a shrug and a smile, I would be a very rich person! It’s so common place amongst adults in the UK but you would never hear someone in public admit, ‘I can’t read’ – and if you did you certainly wouldn’t do it with a smile! It’s time for change!
But how do you inspire children to love maths? Maths, whether we love it or hate it, is a fundamental part of everyday life. It’s a global language. It underpins many essential life skills and yet can also be the key to many of life’s biggest questions. For something so indispensable we should definitely seek to master it, but more importantly have fun with it – from an early age.
Rule number one is to drop any negativity on the subject – remember that your child is hugely influenced by you so if you are proudly claiming how bad you are at the subject they will too! Second have fun with it!
Here are some ideas how:
• Play games – children respond particularly well to games such as Monopoly. They are learning how to calculate their earnings as well as using logical thinking. They are also a good way to spend some quality time together.
Yahtzee is great for developing calculations and strategy without children realising it.
Playing cards is also beneficial – lots of maths can be learnt through games such as cribbage. There are also dedicated maths card games such as HOO HA! or Ulti, great card games that help you master your tables.
• Mix shopping with learning – When you’re on your weekly shop, get the children involved by asking them to recite the prices and add up what’s in the trolley. Playing the ‘guess how much the shopping comes to’ game is a great way of developing estimation skills and is great fun
• Bake and learn – All cooking requires some element of maths. Baking cakes and cookies can easily become an educational game. Test their maths skills by asking them to add up or adapt a recipe for different amounts of serving. The great thing about this is that they get to eat the results at the end!
• Enter competitions – There are a number of individual maths competitions out there that you can compete in – particularly on World Maths Day. Each year Explore Learning, together with the highly prestigious NRICH Project at the University of Cambridge, organises the National Young Mathematicians’ Awards which is the only school team maths competition in the UK. Schools enter a team of four year 5 or 6 pupils where they compete against other schools in their areas with the main aim of instilling confidence in children and helping them see the fun that maths can bring!
• Don’t pass on your insecurities – If you’re a parent who claims to be bad at maths, try not to. By saying how much you dislike maths, you are passing this negativity to your child who will see it as acceptable. Encourage them by making it fun and when they succeed celebrate it! If you’re worried about your own maths skills, you can always visit the National Numeracy Challenge website that helps you identify your weaknesses and suggests activities and tutorials that you can do to boost those areas.
• Games and Apps – We’re lucky to live in a generation where our children are spoilt for choice with the amount of games and apps on offer to keep them entertained. There are so many apps out there and at Explore learning we have a free Times Table app to help children while they’re on the move (http://itunes.apple.com/gb/app/explore-learning-times-tables/id468427944?mt=8)