It’s the 14th of March and today is Pi Day … 3.14 … got it?! It’s a silly joke but, by combining maths and desserts, it points to something that we can easily forget: learning maths can be fun!

But sadly, if we don’t change the way kids learn, this is something our children are totally missing out on.

From the age of six studies show that kids feel real fear and anger as a result of a condition that’s being dubbed “mathematics anxiety”. They can even suffer physical symptoms like butterflies, a racing heart or difficulty catching their breath and it can lead to a whole host of behavioural problems in the classroom and at home. It can completely destroy the subject for children, limiting their learning, and in turn resulting in lower and lower adult numeracy levels.

According to the Nuffield Foundation report, Understanding Mathematics Anxiety, the proportion of adults with functional maths skills equivalent to a GCSE grade C has fallen from 26% in 2003 to 22% in 2011.

The problem starts early. Dr Ros McLellan, who led the interview research, notes: “Maths anxiety is very much an emotional reaction. Younger kids won’t want to go to school when they have maths classes; they get tearful and upset.”

So, how do we try to tackle this? We make it fun! We change the way our kids learn!

Technology offers a highly effective way to remove the stigma around maths through gamified learning. If a child is using logic, numeracy skills or solving sums while playing a game that they love, the negative associations fade away and the learning comes naturally. Suddenly the classroom seems a bit less scary!

Major causes of anxiety around maths include the association with poor marks, test pressures and teasing by other kids. By embracing games, we can remove these associations and replace them with something amazing: that maths is fun (it’s just playing with numbers after all).

I often hear adults boasting about being ‘bad at maths’. This is something that drives me crazy because most of the time it’s not true; it stems from the anxiety we felt as children. As parents, we need to challenge these stereotypes and embrace fun ways for our children to learn subjects where perhaps we didn’t excel. This way we can also overcome our own anxieties about the subject and remove the emotional obstacles that limit our children’s potential.

Looking for a starting point? Why not try Chef Slash on the Azoomee app. It’s designed to help children learn percentages and improve their estimation skills by sharing portions of food equally between different numbers of people. There are pizzas, fruit and even desserts to share so it’s perfect for Pi Day!

– Douglas Lloyd, co-founder, Azoomee

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