This might look different for different people in practice; you might demonstrate number confidence when adapting a recipe to feed more people, or figuring out how much money you can comfortably save each month. Simply trusting yourself to work through a problem involving numbers is a great foundation for number confidence.
We might think that number confidence is only useful for those who work with numbers on a regular basis, but it’s useful for everyone of all ages no matter which walks of life they come from. It can help us feel more independent, manage our finances more effectively, open up job opportunities and reduce our stress levels. So, it’s important that we all try to take steps toward improving our number confidence – whether that’s by talking openly about how we feel, or building our skills a little at a time.
In this blog, I’ll give five top tips for talking about numbers, four reasons to try the National Numeracy Challenge, and three confidence-boosting techniques that we can use for numbers too. I’ll also share two pieces of advice I’d give my younger and present self, along with one confidence-boosting song that works like magic!
Five top tips for talking about numbers
- Simply ask, "How do you feel about numbers?" It's a question we don't often ask and will give you and others the opportunity to express yourselves honestly.
- Be patient and listen, acknowledging others’ feelings and giving them space to express themselves. Sometimes all it takes is a friendly ear to help someone feel supported and seen, and ready to tackle their fears. This can go a long way in helping them overcome their maths anxieties – a problem shared is a problem halved, after all!
- Chat about the practical side of numbers, like organising your schedule, budgeting, or measuring out that perfect cup of coffee. Encourage your friends and colleagues to think of other ways they use numbers in their daily lives.
- Find common ground. Sharing your own experiences with maths, both positive and negative, can help create a connection and foster understanding. We all struggle with something, and mistakes are just part of learning.
- Some people might be puzzled by others' struggles with maths. Encourage them to reflect on the reasons behind their own confidence, such as supportive parents or a good education. It's important for everyone to appreciate that maths anxieties are common and often stem from personal experiences, not a lack of ability.