Possessing basic numeracy skills is essential for everyday life, and getting off to a good start with maths in primary school is an important part of setting children up for their future. However, it’s no secret that many children find the subject challenging.

Maths Week London is all about nurturing a love of maths and building children’s confidence, so in this blog post, we look at some of the common factors that prevent pupils from engaging with the subject and explore how edtech tools like CENTURY can help to win pupils over.

Incorporate non-timed activities

Completing timed activities may lead to pupils who do not feel confident with maths rushing through questions, achieving a lower score than desired, and consequently reaffirming their fear that they are ‘simply not good at maths’.

To alleviate some of the pressure on these pupils, it may be helpful to avoid assigning timed home learning or in class activities. This will remind learners that the main purpose of completing the work is to practice and improve, not to beat the clock. This is likely to lead to higher scores, in turn increasing pupils’ enjoyment of the subject and confidence.

CENTURY provides a low stakes environment for pupils to practice their skills. Teachers are able to see how long a child has spent on each question, but learners do not have this information available to them on the platform. Whilst completing question sets, learners are also able to revisit the learning material as and when necessary to ensure that they properly understand the content, which they may hesitate to do in a timed setting

Build up slowly

As every primary teacher knows, the Key Stage 2 maths curriculum is very broad, and it can be challenging (if not impossible!) to cover each topic in as much depth as you may wish to. This inevitably runs the risk that gaps in understanding will build up over time, and some learners will feel left behind.

Edtech tools can provide an extra resource to supplement what is covered in lessons. By reassuring pupils that they will be able to revisit topics later on, or by providing these resources ahead of teaching a new topic, you will be helping to prevent learners from feeling overwhelmed by trying to stay on top of every new piece of information at all times.

Assigning nuggets (micro-lessons) on CENTURY to provide pupils with additional practice they can complete at home also frees up more lesson time explaining and working through complex concepts.

Break topics down into manageable chunks

When thinking about large topics such as fractions, it’s understandable for pupils to view these as ‘impossible’ because of how much there is to remember. However, both of these examples are really a grouping of lots of much smaller subtopics, such as ‘sequences’.

Breaking learning down into small, manageable chunks encourages learners to focus on each of these one at a time, rather than trying to tackle everything at once and feeling defeated. This can help to move a learner’s mindset from ‘I can’t do fractions’ to ‘I need a little bit more help with adding fractions with different denominators’. As pupils gain confidence in each small subtopic, they will gradually realise that they are capable of understanding the topic as a whole.

This is why the nuggets on CENTURY take only 10-15 minutes to complete on average (including video play time), with each one honing in on one specific skill or concept.

Differentiate learning (as discreetly as possible)

One of the most effective ways to overcome a student’s fear of maths is to ensure that they are always working at the level that is right for them. However, it would be unrealistic to expect one teacher to manually keep track of every single pupil’s progress and confidence level within each subtopic and to differentiate work accordingly.

Even if it were possible, it would be tricky to get right without damaging the confidence of pupils who are assigned the ‘easier’ work.

CENTURY provides teachers with instant access to the data they need to know who to support in which areas, and provides each pupil with an AI-powered personalised pathway to ensure that they are always working on nuggets that are at an appropriate level for them. There is no need to tell pupils within the lesson who needs to work on what – they can simply log in to their account and get on with the work that appears for them to complete. This reduces the competitive element of learning that often increases anxiety among pupils.