Making Maths Magical by Jo Baranek
31st May 2017
Maths! This word can make some people shake with fear, but why? It all goes back to how we were taught maths at school and the teacher who either gave us the love of maths or turned us off maths by one simple statement. Of course there are some people who are sitting in the middle, they are ok with maths but are not leaping for joy when their children bring home the latest GCSE homework.
So why does it matter what we feel about maths? Well, even if we don’t realise it we are likely to be pushing these views onto our children subconsciously. We may say “don’t worry you won’t need maths when you grow up”, or “I don’t have the maths gene so you’re probably the same”, or “Don’t worry you’re good at other things, maths doesn’t matter”.
The question is would we be saying any of this if we were talking about reading or writing? Maths is just as important!
So how do we make maths magical for our children to ensure they don’t have negative thoughts about maths, whilst also helping to change our views of this? Simple, we make maths fun!
Early years is all about learning through play, maths is no different. We are adept at finding out what sparks our children’s interests and what engages them. This is where we start from with maths just like every other area of learning. If you have a child who loves to be active then take maths into their mobile world. For example, measuring how far the child can jump. Teach the children how to use the measuring tape or stick then leave these resources in your outdoor area for children to continue this learning. How about using a stopwatch to time how long it takes a child to go round the track on their bike?
Number lines need to be real for children to relate to them. Using images that have meaning for children will have a better effect on their learning, and providing number lines that can be moved around and manipulated allows the numbers to come to life.
Use the natural world around you to look for patterns, count and calculate, problem solve and measure. Maths does not need to be confined to a specific area in your indoor environment, in fact maths should be integrated throughout your setting and activities.
Maths needs to be hands on and fun for all children from babies through to the end of school, but especially in early years! The stronger the foundation we can build for learning the better opportunities and outcomes our children will receive.
If you wish to learn more about how to make maths magical come and see me at my Childcare Expo Manchester workshop on Saturday 17th June or visit NDNA website to find out about our Award Winning Maths Champion programme!