Maths – how we can improve

One of the things that I am always asked by pupils (and their parents) is how can we improve our maths. The first thing that I say is practise, practise and practise. You wouldn’t go and play in a football match without training or warming-up; or play in musical concert without doing the same. Working on key maths skills (adding small numbers, times-tables, the 4 operations) for just a few minutes a day can make an enormous difference.

The Potton Federation motto is “I can…” The first step to improving, is believing that you can. I am a strong advocate of the fact that ‘confidence is the key to all learning’. If pupils can start with a belief in themselves, the rest will follow. If pupil give themselves the chance to learn and accept that mistakes are part of the process, their confidence will naturally grow.

In mathematics we should embrace mistakes. It may sound odd, but mistakes make it easier to learn. Every time we get something wrong we understand a bit more about how to get it right next time. We should always remember that, nobody is born an expert – we all have to start somewhere.

My top tips for parents are:-

Be positive about maths. Try not to say things like “I can’t do maths” or “I hated maths at school” – your child may start to think like that themselves.

Point out the maths in everyday life. Include your child in activities involving numbers and measuring, such as shopping, cooking and travelling.

Praise your child for effort rather than for being “clever”. This shows them that by working hard they can always improve.

Finally can I say a big thank you to all parents and pupils for the hard work that you have done in this academic year. We can all aspire to be better at mathematics.

“Without mathematics, there’s nothing you can do. Everything around you is mathematics. Everything around you is numbers.” – Shakuntala Devi. (Shakuntala Devi (1929-2013) was a child prodigy from India, specializing in mental calculations. She was popularly known as the “human computer.”)