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Numskills is an exciting bank of resources which trained Quest for Learning tutors use with small groups of children to help them improve their mental maths and calculation skills while having fun with numbers and playing games with everyday items such as dice, cards and clocks.
Children also learn measuring skills and apply knowledge of fractions through cooking activities. Activities are flexible and our tutors adapt them to meet the needs of children all the way from Year 2 to Year 6. Children take part twice a week for nine weeks.
However, behind all the games and fun activities there is much research and careful thought. It is widely recognised that children learn through play and this is no less true of maths. The National Curriculum describes a high-quality maths education as encouraging “an appreciation of the beauty and power of mathematics, and a sense of enjoyment and curiosity about the subject”.
After taking part in Numskills, children show an increase in confidence, they begin to use the language of maths and show a willingness to engage far more in classroom maths activities. They also talk about teaching the games to their parents and siblings at home.
The Numskills programme was devised in collaboration with Jane McNeill and Richard Newton from Oxford Brookes University. Both are highly experienced in teaching maths as well as in developing the practice of maths professionals. Jane has worked for the Primary National Strategy and the National Centre for Excellence in the Teaching of Mathematics. Richard teaches on PGCE Primary Education modules at Oxford Brookes and has a doctorate in how to support parents helping their children with maths.
“She tells me it’s a fun way of doing maths which makes her learn. It is a great highlight of her week.” (Parent)
“Playing games helped me with my maths.” (Pupil)
"I wanted Numskills in my school as I could see the impact it had on struggling pupils. It's simple, the activities can be used by all staff and it works. Children love playing the games and begin to really engage with number work." (Headteacher)
Ruby was very quiet with low self-esteem when she began her Quest for Learning ‘Numskills’ programme. She was working slightly below age-expectations, but it was evident that she had some good basic Maths skills. Ruby would often try to avoid participating and would offer minimal engagement with the group. Numskills aims to make maths fun with an emphasis on learning through games. There is fun and flexibility, and Ruby felt there was no pressure on her to achieve the ‘right’ answer. Within a couple of weeks, she began to engage more. Though still shy, she began to indicate quietly to the tutor when she wanted to share her knowledge with the group. She asked to play certain games, to suggest the ways in which games could be extended and began to explain to others in the group her mathematical reasoning. Her mathematical language developed and, after playing the game Three in a Row, she explained to the group the meaning of ‘multiples’. By the end of the sessions she was an enthusiastic participant, showed an excellent ability to apply her knowledge and skills in different contexts, was confident at recalling number facts and enjoyed telling her tutor about the maths that she was doing at home with her dad.
The Quest for Learning Numskills programme is important in building confidence and ability in maths. Focusing on key skills through the playing of games, children learn in ways they find fun, but come away feeling inspired and motivated.
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