When I reviewed The Elephant in the Classroom last November I shared a confession – sometimes the fears and anxieties related to Maths stay a part of your life even into adulthood which is why I’m excited there are programmes around today such as The Maths Factor.
From a professional, child and parent point of view Maths is now considerably harder! Why? The new curriculum in September 2014 introduced some new topics into the Primary curriculum and requires other topics to be taught to younger age groups. For example:
- all 12 times tables now have to be covered by the end of Year 4, whereas previously schools only had to teach 1-10 by the end of Year 5.
- Long division is now introduced in Year 5, whereas previously it was taught in secondary school.
We found it a challenge teaching our Year 6 children new ways of doing things ready to be tested in the SATs (they were successful and that was down to teachers and children working very hard as a dedicated team with children wanting to learn and to become independent for KS3).
There will always be children who lack confidence in Maths and I think challenging a child’s mindset isn’t enough on its own to break down those barriers and bring change. This is where I believe programmes such as The Maths Factor give immense value.
What is The Maths Factor and how does it work?
The Maths Factor was set up by Carol Vorderman in 2010. In 2013 it was acquired by Pearson, the world’s leading education company, and in October 2014 it was re-launched, ready for tablets and ready for the new national curriculum.
The Maths Factor is an online maths tutoring site for 4-11 year olds. The content is ordered to match the new 2014 national curriculum in England, but the site is used successfully by children all around the world.
The heart of The Maths Factor are short sessions designed for daily use. Each session starts with a lively video tutorial by Carol, followed by a fun warm-up and then a practice. There are over 1,000 of these sessions, arranged into 32 topics and separated by three stages:
- Explorer KS1
- Adventurer Lower KS2
- Pioneer Upper KS2
Not every child has the same learning style and needs. I love the extra features on The Maths Factor which provide supplementary learning and alternative approaches.
I particularly like Carol Vorderman’s 30 Day Maths Challenge which embeds good habits.
- Each day a session is completed lasting 10-15 minutes your child receives a tick.
- Achieve 30 ticks and Maths Factor will post out a 30 day challenge medal.
10 – 15 minutes per day is achievable isn’t it!
Is it really possible to see a difference within 30 days?
The Maths Factor say YES! 6 out of 10 parents see an improvement in their child’s confidence within 30 days of first using The Maths Factor. This rises to 8 out of 10 within 3 months. It’s simply that more practice makes more progress. ‘Maths Factor’ students advance by up to 25 months in one year. The worth for your child is priceless. Confidence AND progress.
There are five principles that are the foundation of The Maths Factor approach:
- A little bit every day!
As mentioned earlier – a short, daily session is the surest way to embed learning steadily and securely. The Maths Factor is structured to encourage this approach.
Take the daily approach, avoid ‘binge homework’ sessions, and before you know it, your child could easily be answering 1,500 questions a month. It’s about practice, practice, practice. And you know what that amount of maths practice makes? Children who are confident with numbers for the rest of their lives.
- Keep it fun!
This is the greatest challenge for maths educators and for parents.
Every session comes with a fun ‘warm up’, which gets children into gear with more light-hearted questions before the formal practice. Every session ends with your child earning rewards – new marbles and a sums counter that can only go up.
Meantime, games unlock in the Games Centre as your child progresses through the programme. The games are colourful, fun and maths-based, and they provide a fantastic incentive to make progress.
- Time is the greatest gift
The Maths Factor is designed to bring families together.
Homework sessions can be one of the few times in the day when a child feels they’re getting 100% attention from a parent – particularly important in the younger age groups. Be patient and supervise your child through the early days.
Start to decrease the supervision as they become more confident. Warning – you may be pleasantly surprised at how quickly this happens!
- Use a combination of online and offline
Online maths tutoring is remarkably effective. Children love the instant feedback, and they thrive on the rewards and excitement that The Maths Factor provides.
In particular, use a tablet if you have one. Children love the instant interaction that comes with touchscreen technology. It allows them to engage all of their cognitive skills with the on-screen problem, without distraction.
But digital is not the only solution. Sometimes children also need the reassurance of working on paper and the learning that comes with physically writing out notes or an answer (this is how I learn best).
Last (but not least) …
- Parents build their own confidence with Maths
Many parents are unsure about arithmetic and maths themselves.
Changes in methodology have been introduced by different political and educational ideologies and this can be confusing to parents. We have ended up with a system of subtraction, multiplication, long division and other algorithms (methods), which you may not have been taught in school. This has become a huge problem as children naturally say “Can you help me?” and sometimes you can’t – so everybody ends up in a muddle. It has become so marked that some schools have introduced introductory lessons for parents.
The Maths Factor take parent engagement seriously. Every parent not only gets a complete overview of every question answered and the progress being made, but the parents are taught too. For every module in the programme (there are about a half dozen modules in each topic), there is a special parent video, giving advice and tricks on supporting your child. These are emailed out to you when your child reaches the relevant module, along with written advice. Just as useful, you can watch any of the video lessons before your child does, so you are up to speed and slightly ahead of their learning curve.
As a parent, you are able to see and control everything in The Maths Factor. It’s protected by your own parent password, so your child can’t gain access to all the sensitive things, like subscription details.
Do you have a child starting school? Or is this the ‘SATs year’? Is your child anxious about Maths? The Maths Factor is a programme that works and it proves that yes, Maths can be fun! I think all primary school children should be given the opportunity to use a programme such as this.
There’s often great subscription deals available and with a 30 day money back guarantee it’s definitely worth trying The Maths Factor. You’ll see your child progressing but I think it’s priceless seeing them more relaxed at the mention of Maths!
Do you already use a Maths programme to build your child’s confidence?
Would you subscribe to a Maths programme?