Let's face it: most of us find that maths is a difficult subject to get a handle on. With all those numbers, formulas, and equations to keep track of, it’s enough to make anyone feel overwhelmed.
It’s a bit of a cliché by now: students all over the world will tell you time and again that maths ranks amongst their least favourite subjects. Why is that? Let’s break it down quickly.
First and foremost, it's difficult: that's the harsh truth. It's going to take work, time, and practice to get comfy with it. If you’re struggling, you’ll probably feel discouraged and demotivated. It doesn’t help that so many topics are interlinked in the world of maths, so you need to keep up with one to understand the next.
Secondly, it can lead to a vicious cycle of boredom in the classroom. If you’re not keeping up in maths class, you're going to feel like nothing makes sense. This means you get bored and disengage, which can create all sorts of trouble as you try and find ways to entertain yourself. Boredom is an endless source of frustration, both for you and for your teacher!
Finally, we’ve all had ‘maths anxiety’ at some point in our lives (unless of course you’re the next Einstein, in which case you don't need to worry at all!). For most of us, though, exams and grades can be pretty nerve-wracking. Sometimes, if you aren't able to grasp a complex concept, you tend to stress out, lose focus, and become overwhelmed – which just makes things worse.
But it’s not all bad! Here we have a couple of pointers to help make maths more bearable for you, and maybe even fun...
Maths games are an excellent way for you to re-engage yourself in a topic you were either bored by or find difficult. It doesn't have to be online – it can also be an old-fashioned board game. Either way, it will introduce competition and excitement into the classroom. Playing against your friends will motivate you to do better because… well, who doesn't want to win? These days, countless websites and apps can help you turn maths into a game (and no, Cool Math Games doesn't count).
Let’s shine some light on a couple of examples:
● Mathletics: You can find various study resources and fun ways to practice here, with topics covering Years 1 through 13. You’ll need to pay for ongoing access, but a free trial is available.
● Kahoot: This one is an all-time favourite! Make your questions and add in the answers, and all you need to do is practice away against your friends. They also have their own maths quizzes you can try!
● Mathsbuddy: This is a NZ-based repository of over 1400 tutorials covering Years 1 through 13. You can use it to learn at your own pace and help to build your understanding of topics that you might have learnt in class, but you aren’t yet 100% familiar with.
Let's say your teacher has just introduced a new topic. You've spent the whole day understanding and figuring out the basics, and now you need some practice to make sure all that knowledge sticks. Don't feel like making your way through endless worksheets? Make them into flashcards.
Put the questions on one side and the answers on the other. Have a paper and a pen with you for anything you need to work out, then draw out a card yourself or make someone else do it (it's more fun with other people).
You can also use them as info cards to help your study later on down the line – just write down any necessary facts, figures or formulas and practice away!
Your classmates can be great assets for your maths journey. If you’re struggling with a question or topic, ask if you can spend half an hour working it through with a friend. At least one of them has likely grasped the concept well enough to help you out.
As well as being effective, it’s a lot more fun than doing it yourself! Even maths can become a stress-free and enjoyable topic with friends. Just make sure you stay focused and on topic – don't stray away from the primary goal. If you both get stuck on something, it's time to recruit a third squad member or your teacher.
Teachers love giving you maths worksheets and quizzes, and they love it even more when you complete them to a high standard. How can you learn to love them too? Easy: treat yourself.
Let's say you've achieved that score that you wanted in the quiz, or completed that worksheet you were struggling with. A bit of self-reward won't hurt! Take some time to do something that you want to. Go eat out with your friends, play another half-hour of Fortnite or Minecraft (or whatever your favourite time-sink is), or maybe take yourself to the newest Marvel movie. It's going to motivate you to keep on going and do better. Discipline is a crucial point here: if you don't do the work, don't give yourself the reward. But, when you do achieve the targets you’ve set for yourselves, take some time out to celebrate!
All in all, maths doesn't have to be such a daunting subject! If you’re still struggling, though, our specialised tutors at EduExperts are here to help you work through whatever it is that’s standing in your way. Get in touch with your local centre for a free, no-obligation assessment today, and begin your journey towards getting more out of maths!