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When we think of the subjects that are full of passion and emotion, we tend to think of the creative ones; art, music, drama and literacy. Their ability to touch our hearts and souls, make us laugh and cry (and every emotion in between) is recognised by all of us. However, I’m going to suggest that maths brings out some pretty strong emotions in both adults and children too!

Maths is a bit of a marmite subject; by the time you reach secondary school, you either love it or hate it. It has always surprised me how, when meeting someone for the first time and maybe mentioning that I was a maths teacher, so many adults will confess ‘oh I hated maths at school’ or ‘I wasn’t any good at maths’ or ‘they lost me at algebra’.

But, I’m absolutely sure that all of these people are using maths in their every day lives, comfortably and confidently. They somehow carry a burden of not being good enough and I’ve got a suspicion that these negative feelings are passed on to their children.

Be enthusiastic and positive about the subject

So, if a parent ever asks me, ‘how can I best help my child with maths?’, my first response is always; be enthusiastic and positive about the subject. If your child presents you with a problem that you can’t solve or asks you to explain something you are struggling with, try saying something along the lines of:

Or even my favourite ‘Get out of jail free’ card:

It might sound cheesy, but there is only so much your positivity can achieve in the classroom – parents need to be on board too!

Recognise emotions

As teachers, I think it’s so important to think about the emotions that are at work when we teach maths. If children don’t have a strong sense of number, it is so hard to add new concepts and this creates feelings of frustration and sadness which ultimately start to build a defensive wall. It can often be a bit like trying to read without recognising the letters of the alphabet.

My heart leapt for joy when the maths mastery philosophy started to filter into our thinking. This is the idea that as teachers, the focus should be on tackling concepts in lots of different ways to allow children time and space to properly understand and master them for themselves. However, the reality of the busy classroom and the burden of assessments and progress can make this quite a challenge.

So, what can you do? What great ideas have I seen put into practice?

 

If you haven’t seen Sir Ken Robinson’s TED talk on creativity, then please make yourself a cup of tea, put your feet up and prepare to be inspired. This will stay in your teaching heart forever and change the way you look at things. Watch it here.

 

If you’re inspired by Cath’s blog, then World Maths Day is a great time to start using these ideas. Explore YPO's extensive range of maths and numeracy products here.
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Learn Well

Child development is at the heart of everything at Learn Well. Each product is thoughtfully created to give young children and older ones with special needs a broad range of sensory learning experiences. Research shows that sensory play builds nerve connections in the brain's pathways; so Learn Well think about sight, sound, smell and touch as each product is in development.