How did you find maths before you took the National Numeracy Challenge?
Daunting. I was always in the lowest group at school and left with nothing. I’ve got three kids, and I felt like a let-down because I was struggling to help them with what they were learning. If I went out for a meal I used to just get the cheapest thing on the menu so it’d be easier to work out. I’d hang back in social situations and stay quiet, thinking “if nobody sees me, nobody hears me, nobody can question me.”
What made you face up to your feelings? Was it as daunting as you thought it would be?
When you get older you realise numbers are important, and I couldn’t do what I needed with them. That’s why I wanted to improve my confidence.
Being honest, it was easier than I thought it would be. Maths has always been something I shied away from, but I found that I was actually pretty good at it, come the end.
How did you find doing the Numeracy Challenge?
The further I got into it, the easier I found it, because you’re able to log in either at work or at home. If I got a quiet five minutes to myself I’d think “let’s log in, try and work something out that I struggle with at work”. My confidence has grown to a point where I can work things out in my head now. I don’t shy away from situations.
“Maths is my friend. We’ve had a pint in the pub and made up.”
How do you feel about helping your children now?
I feel more confident in being able to help my kids with whatever they bring home, rather than trying to dodge it. It’s still a challenge but it’s a lot easier than it was.
Having the confidence to teach others how to do something, something that I’d have never been able to think about before is great. I’m six feet tall but it makes me feel seven feet being able to help them out.
Have there been any other benefits to improving your confidence with numbers?
I’ve changed to a better role at work and I love my job now, because I’m working with numbers. I’ve always wanted to do English as well, so I’m doing an English course now too. When I go out for a meal I can actually get what I fancy, and treat myself a bit better! I’ve got that inner-confidence, I’m straight in there, my friends have even mentioned it.
What would you say to other people who are struggling with numbers, about the Challenge?
Do it. If I can do it anyone can do it. I did it for help with my kids, and it turned out to be a help for work as well.
More from our Supporting Parents series
Supporting Parents: Lucy Rycroft-Smith on board games, black eyes, and the importance of a 'mistakey' atmosphere
Supporting Parents: Outdoor Maths
Find out more about maths anxiety
What is a fear of maths, how does it affect people and their lives, and what can you do to help? National Numeracy has collected a variety of research, stories from real people, and advice about maths anxiety.
Start improving your numeracy – register on the National Numeracy Challenge now!
National Numeracy has developed an online tool to help you improve your numeracy and boost your confidence. This interactive website is free to use at home, at work or on the move. You can assess your current level of numeracy – completely anonymously – and then begin an online journey to getting the Essentials of Numeracy.