Like so many other teachers I think I’ve lost count of how many times I’ve been asked by children “Why do I need to do maths?” I’ve also lost count of number of times children have told me that they “hate maths and can’t do it”.
Not only is this incredibly sad but its also frustrating and worrying as maths is so important for independence. Without a grasp on basic maths, everyday tasks such as buying food, budgeting wages, paying bills would be very difficult- making living independently as an adult challenging. We know as teachers and parents that this is a reason to try hard at maths- but try explaining that to a five or 6 year old!
Therefore, instead of attempting to explain the children why, I believe it’s imperative to ignite a love of maths early on, to make children feel successful at maths and not fear it. Make it something they enjoy and want to achieve in. Do that, and their biggest barrier to Maths will have been removed.
But how can you make maths fun for young children?
It’s definitely not as difficult as it sounds. Maths, taught well, can be great fun!
Here’s some suggestions on how you can make maths a subject they enjoy and maybe even love! :
– Make it Relevant to Them– Without relevance, Maths, like anything else can often feel a bit dry and abstract, making it difficult to engage kids in. Luckily Maths is incredibly versatile and can be made to fit in with pretty much every topic a child enjoys. So it is very easy to make Maths relevant to a child. For example, if you’re teaching children how to count- pick what they are counting wisely, are they obsessed with super heroes? Or dinosaur mad? Well then get them counting super heroes or dinosaurs. Whatever they love, use it as a hook to entice them into maths!
– Real Life Examples– Another way to make it relevant to them (and in turn..much more likely to engage them!) is through real life examples. As a teacher at school, you could get children to use money (real or pretend) to ‘buy’ their snacks at snack time, for example. Or as a parent with your own children you could include your child when buying things from the shop- getting them to had over the money with you, count the change etc. It’s also great to show children that numbers are literally all around us, on front doors, buses, phones, books, computers…everywhere! Use these as regular opportunities to help children learn to recognise numbers and how they are formed.
– Imaginative Play– Kids love pretending to be grown ups. In their eyes our work and chores appear very exciting! And as a lot of things in the adult world involve money- there’s a whole range of imaginative play activities you can set up to get children practising their maths skills through play. For example, by setting up a pretend shop using a toy til- children can learn to count items, add up their total price etc.
– Games– Maths lends itself to an array of different games. Card games and board games for example all involve practicing numeracy skills. Associating maths with fun and play is key, in my opinion, to future engagement and enjoyment of maths. We love this bingo activity as part of PlanBee‘s KS1 maths Resources ‘Lets Identify Numbers’. It’s a simple yet effective way of making number recognition and recall fun! Plus with the added competition element, it helps to motivate children to learn the numbers- so they can spot their numbers quickly if theirs are called out during the game!
– Movement– Young children often learn with their whole bodies! And contrary to the traditional view of maths being at a desk with a pen and paper, for young children in particular I believe maths is a brilliant subject for moving around! Whether it be practising counting through ‘What’s the time Mr Wolf’, recognising numbers whilst playing ‘Hopscotch’ or incorporating numbers into ‘Simon Says’- kids love moving about and in my experience it often helps them remember what they’ve learnt.
– Humour– Humour, in my opinion, is one of the best tools for helping engage children. Kids often don’t expect us to be silly or even better… to encourage them to be silly and therefore doing so can really capture their attention! We loved this activity as part of PlanBee‘s KS1 maths resources to get children to count using the voice of a robot! A simple yet brilliant example of utilising humour to motivate learning.
It’s our Maths focus this fortnight on The SEN Resources Blog and we’ve been fortunate enough to try out two of PlanBee‘s Maths schemes of work. We tried two of their KS1 Maths Resources ‘Lets Represent Numbers’ and ‘Lets Identify Numbers’
But it’s not just maths topics that PlanBee provide fantastic resources for, in fact every inch of the national curriculum for primary is covered on their website, with lesson plans, slides, activities and worksheets.
*Please note that this blog post is sponsored and we received complimentary resources to try out. All words and opinions however, are our own.