Today we’re going to talk about the 4 key ways we can build confidence in Maths. But first, I want to share why this is so important to me.
Year 6 Maths was my worst subject.
As was Year 7 and Year 8 Maths.
So how come in Year 9, I suddenly shot up from a 68% to an 84%?
Sure, you can say I finally learnt my times tables, or understood how to work with fractions. But that would likely be a lie.
I learnt that it’s okay to fail.
As a child, I was a classic perfectionist. Blame it on the fact that I am the eldest.
But as any perfectionist would know, looking at your returned test that had a circled 50% on it is not living up to the Perfionists Creed of Being Perfect.
So, with some guidance of incredible mentors, I started to build a growth mindset.
I realised that 50% is not the end of the world like I previously thought.
Instead, it’s a gentle reminder that I need some extra support in a specific area.
I played to my strength of wanting to do well, and before long, my marks were creeping back up.
I felt more confident.
No longer did I stress out over every answer.
I learnt to enjoy Maths.
And this is why we developed the Real World Maths Club.
One of the greatest obstacles we face as educators is helping students find the strength to fail. This blog will explain the ways in which we can help build confidence in Maths.
This week was the first of our 5 week Real World Maths Club. I knew from the start that the best way to encourage a ‘real-world’ approach to Maths was to focus on building their courage to take chances and explore options. This meant focusing on how to ‘fail forward’.
If you missed this half term’s Real World Maths Club sign-up, but you’d like to register your child for the next half term, please click here to add your name to our Free Trial so you can get the first notification of the topic.
Building a Culture of Courageous Learners
The first half of our first Real World Maths Club session, I asked the children to come up with a word problem that used decimals numbers. They had to create one for each of the four Maths operations (adding, subtracting, multiplying, and dividing).
They received no prior input.
We reward courage in our lessons. This is why we pushed the students outside of their comfort zone right from day one.
And when things got tough, we provided them with the encouragement and tools to help them get ‘unstuck’.
This builds trust.
Not only do the children feel more proud of their work because they truly tried, but they know they can count on us to help facilitate their progress.
Our sessions have continued with this same courageous focus. We praise sharing ideas (in the chat box or outloud) and always work to build the resilience it takes to keep learning.
As a result, the Real World Maths club is always buzzing and children are constantly sharing how they reached a solution either verbally or in the chat box.
Dispel the Can’ts and Shoulds
A rule we have in all of our clubs and tutoring sessions is that we don’t accept the words ‘Can’t’ or ‘Should’.
It’s imperative that we lead by example and moderate the tone for which children approach Maths. We always talk about the power of YET.
“I can’t figure out how to find the missing angle…. yet”
This small but mighty word has taught our students that learning is not static. That they are capable to find the answer to their problem and learn how to solve for a missing angle.
Words are powerful and if we don’t support our students in choosing words that build confidence, then we’re fighting an uphill battle.
For more tips on how to boost confidence, see our blog on the Learning Pit!
Bring Maths to Life to Build Confidence
One of the biggest lessons I learnt that helped me build a growth mindset was the realisation that Math is all around me.
That’s the aim of Real World Maths club. To demonstrate that while children may feel they aren’t able to solve a word problem, they are in fact solving them at the shops every day!
Bringing Maths to life! Begin with foundational teaching, stretch children to real world application, and then bring it back to word problems. This scaffolded method of teaching helps build confidence and show every day applications.
Another great method to bring Maths to life and build confidence in Maths is to make it fun. When you play board games, let your child move their game piece and count the squares. Encourage them to be the ‘banker’. Allow them time to play Maths games online. Get the Multiplication Songs stuck in your head!
Make it inter-disciplinary
For some reason, we’re still teaching children in subjects. We isolate them, then expect that children are able to see the links by themselves.
Don’t assume your child can see Maths in the world around them.
Take the time to show them fibonacci’s rule in art; how Pythagorus Theorem can be used if you’re working with buildings and structures.
One of my favourite ways to encourage children to be more open to Maths is to find out who they are inspired by, and see how they use Maths. Whether it’s how a football player uses angles and geometry to find the open net, or a famous chef can convert measures easily to make the best tasting cakes, find ways to make it personal.
One Final Thought on Building Confidence in Maths
From my experience, this confidence does not just ‘appear’ one day. There are a lot of hours behind the scenes to help the child build their confidence in Maths.
What better way to help them along than to have them join a community of other students who are all in the same boat?
On February 11th at 7:30pm, Bettering Youth is opening up the doors to our Real World Maths Club Free Trial. This club is open for children in Years 5 and Year 6. This term we are focusing on building confidence in Geometry: shapes, angles and measurements.
If your child feels a little disheartened by Maths, or if you’re tired of hearing “I can’t”, then be sure to click to save your child’s seat.
This programme is hugely popular and you won’t want to miss out on the opportunity to hear and see your child grow in confidence.