Maths is an incredibly important component of our lives. In fact, it’s relevant to almost everything we do. As a ubiquitous force in any classroom across the globe, it’s pretty much impossible to deny the benefits of truly grasping the subject.
However, it doesn’t stop with simply completing times tables and calculations on a school desk. If a learner can grow confident in their maths skills, this will transfer over into many aspects of their life. Those who harness maths from a young age establish a solid foundation for everything they learn in the future.
Now, with such an imposing, ever-present subject, it’s completely understandable to be a little intimidated. Perhaps you struggled to grasp maths as a young learner, or you may have experienced setbacks somewhere in your history as a student. But don’t fear! It’s completely possible to flex those mathematical muscles and improve your skills going forward, wherever you are in your learning journey.
The key, like with many things in life, is consistency. Using specific methods and practicing ‘little and often’ will bolster your confidence – and may even kindle a sense of enjoyment for the subject!
Top 6 tips to improve your maths skills
So, what methods are we talking about? Let’s explore some tips that will help to boost your (or your child’s) confidence and strengthen your mathematical skills.
1. Wrap your head around those tricky concepts
First thing’s first: sit down and determine areas of maths that you find particularly challenging. Make a list. This may change with time, but once you get it out of your head and into writing, the positioning of the goalposts will become much clearer.
From here, you can set realistic goals and decide what concepts you should begin to break down. Plus, having a list at hand will set a solid baseline that you can regularly refer to as you press on.
2. Understand the basics
Once this baseline has been set, it’s time to start from the beginning. This may seem obvious, but it’s easy to jump ahead a little too eagerly, taking on those more difficult concepts without having a solid foundation beneath you. Practice and repetition are great, but if you don’t fully understand the basic rules of a certain concept, it will be hard to move forward.
If there are any gaps in your learning, make sure these are addressed before moving on. How strong is your times tables knowledge? What about addition, subtraction, multiplication, and division? Mastering the simpler steps will make those more complex areas that much more manageable.
To practise these key areas, we recommend downloading the DoodleMaths app. Designed to be used for 10 minutes a day, it creates every learner a personalised work programme that’s specifically tailored to their needs. It automatically targets tricky topics and fills learning gaps – and you can try it for free!
3. Take on some past test papers
Past test papers are a great way to explore a range of different concepts. They’ll not only help you tackle tricky areas, but you’ll become familiar with the language and structure of a typical maths exam. This is a great way to test the waters and get a feel of what you’re confident in and what you find challenging.
Of course, any practice is good for a learner. But being able to pick out specific focus areas, then homing in on these to sharpen your skills, is a valuable task.
If you’re looking for more ways to test your knowledge, why not try our free interactive maths explanations? Covering all topics from Reception to Year 6, these handy exercises help learners to visualise key concepts, making them a great way to consolidate your knowledge.
4. Practise ‘little and often’
Once you’ve recognised the concepts that take priority, take the time to practice ‘little and often’. Some learners make the mistake of biting off more than they can chew. It’s forgivable to be ambitious, but it’s important to be realistic! As we have already touched upon, consistency is key. Establish a routine that’s practical to you.
Find pockets of time that work in your schedule, then dedicate these to practising the concepts that require your focus. This will prevent you from becoming overwhelmed. With time, you’ll look back and recognise how each little session here and there has accumulated toward the bigger picture.
5. Look at how maths is used in the real world
Maths matters in everyday life. Consider ways of connecting concepts in the classroom with situations that are likely to pop up in a typical daily routine. For example, managing money – from receiving change at the shop to figuring out compound interest – is a practical skill that anyone would benefit from mastering. Understanding distance, time, and the cost of travel is also something that we will all encounter in our lives.
Weighing out ingredients for a recipe, using measurements during home decorating, understanding statistics in sports – there are plenty of circumstances that require a certain level of mathematical skill. As you go about your day, be mindful of when these situations could arise.
For even more ways to explore how maths is used outside of the classroom, be sure to take a look at our blog all about real-world maths.
6. Make use of multimedia
In the modern world, many forms of media are emerging to supplement learning. As a result, many schools have implemented games in their curriculum, using school-wide platforms such as DoodleMaths to help learners improve their fundamental maths skills and gain a genuine love of the subject.
Regardless of age, play is a great form of explorative learning. It gives learners ownership over the content, allowing them to craft their own path in a fun, engaging way.
And it doesn’t end with games. Videos, digital quizzes, and forms of interactive technology are just some examples of how multimedia can be used to strengthen maths skills. When concepts are approached from all angles, there’s more of a chance that a particular avenue will prove effective.
It all comes down to your personal style
Ultimately, we all learn in different ways. What works for someone may not work for someone else. Embarking on a learning journey is a very personal thing. Whether you’re looking to improve your own maths skills, or you wish to help someone else, the important thing is to be open-minded. Give things a go and be resilient: then you’ll undoubtedly find a route that works.
Whatever you land on, remember the importance of consistency. If you’re practising ‘little and often’, with time, your overarching learning objectives will be reached.
Try the tips we’ve covered, then don’t be afraid to take on further research. Again, your learning journey is your own, so take ownership of it! With perseverance, you’ll reap the rewards.
And finally, don’t forget to download the DoodleMaths app. Filled with thousands of interactive exercises, it’ll help to consolidate and maintain your learning – and best of all, it’s proven to boost confidence and ability in maths!