The Jenga Effect
How can a firm foundation be built?
Lookout for maths difficulties; simply by identifying difficulties at an early stage of a child’s numeracy development means you will be better placed to support them.
Assess where the child really is with their knowledge and understanding – use an assessment such as The Dyscalculia Assessment by Emerson and Babtie to identify strengths and area to improve (requiring intervention)
Begin intervention just before the level of breakdown; don’t be afraid to peel right back to foundation areas if that is not secure- intervention often needs to go much further back we might initially realise
Provide concrete resources – for secondary school students too! By starting from the concrete, you can ground a child’s understanding of a new maths concept
Use the Concrete, Pictorial, Abstract (CPA) approach. Remember the most important part, not always mentioned, is verbalising thinking. Model by verbalising your own thinking and encourage children to explain what they are thinking out loud – how and why
Scaffold learning – always start with questions which the child can complete easily and independently and gradually build up – this helps keep maths anxiety to a minimum
Celebrate each small success – there can never be too much praise! Target your praise don’t just say ‘good work’ say ‘I really liked how you explained your thinking for 9+6 =15 what a great strategy’
Provide lots of practice opportunities – these enable children to feel supported as they progress- don’t be tempted to move too quickly
Play lots of games! Games are a great opportunity to actively practice, talk about numbers and encourage comparing and ordering. Children often learn through games without even realising they are learning – this can really help to reduce maths anxiety.
Revise, repeat, and circle back to reinforce every step. This helps pupils to gain a deeper understanding and develop automaticity – don’t expect any pre- skills or knowledge/understanding taught to be still there when you move onto another skill- always check first!