Many people have a very narrow definition of maths, and would typically cite mental arithmetic, sums and number problems. Adults often remember this from their school days and sadly, many remember it as a time of pressure and worry and will still approach maths with trepidation and fear. Unfortunately this negative attitude can easily be passed on to children: sometimes directly, with adults stating ‘we’re not a maths family’ or ‘maths isn’t for us’, and other times unintentionally, with parents wanting to help their children but being too nervous to confidently approach maths and passing this anxiety on…
Confidence through creativity
At Maths on Toast we want everyone to be able to feel positive about maths and it is our mission to show families how fun, creative and enjoyable maths can be. We believe that creating enjoyable, playful experiences and memories of doing maths together helps to foster a positive can-do attitude towards maths and builds the confidence to tackle any mathematical challenges that may arise.
A creative maths approach demonstrates the huge variety of maths that exists and reveals the fact that maths is everywhere in our day to day life. It gives the chance to explore and investigate mathematical concepts in a playful, non-pressured way. Fancy some games, puzzles, construction, craft, patterns or nature exploration? Then creative maths is for you!
We created our Maths on Toast Bites films to give families and communities a taste of creative maths activities that can be easily tried out at home.
Each film shows a short ‘how-to’ activity demonstrated by children – there’s a construction challenge, shape-building, you can make and decorate a hexaflexagon (a hexa-what-agon?) or check out some simple dice games. You can find the films on our website along with other useful resources:
- Creative maths videos
- The maths involved in everyday games
- More resources and ideas
- Number Rumbler, a fun family card game
Play, enjoy and explore
And to build confidence in you and your children in maths?
Play, enjoy and explore. Take your time and take on the challenge – you can’t expect to get everything right first time and good mathematicians know to keep trying and to learn from their mistakes. Encourage curiosity and allow children to discover for themselves why something works (or doesn’t work!).
Finally, don’t be afraid to show that you make mistakes too, and if you keep trying and playing together you may find that a whole new attitude towards maths will start to grow and multiply throughout your whole family...
Lucy Davis is CEO of Maths on Toast, the family maths charity which works with families and communities to provide creative, human and social experiences of maths. Find out more https://www.mathsontoast.org.uk
More from our Supporting Parents series
Supporting Parents: Lucy Rycroft-Smith on board games, black eyes, and the importance of a 'mistakey' atmosphere
How being able to help his kids with homework made Jason feel seven feet tall
Supporting Parents: Outdoor Maths
Supporting Parents: The Maths Mum on why maths is still maths
Supporting Parents: National Numeracy with 5 top tips to help children feel confident with numbers
Start improving your numeracy – register on the National Numeracy Challenge now!
National Numeracy has developed an online tool to help you improve your everyday maths 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.