I love maths. I find the subject to be so challenging yet so satisfying that I was able to enjoy my experiences of maths throughout my education. My love of maths began in my Primary 5 class when my teacher provided myself and my classmates an opportunity to learn maths in a different way, through play.
Maths through play is an unconventional method of teaching maths skills according to the old traditions of teaching. Maths has always been perceived and a ‘textbooks open, sum after sum’ subject. This old-fashioned way of teaching leaves children bred and disengaged from one of the most valuable curricular areas. By teaching maths trough play we are opening up the possibilities for all children to be able to work problems out in a way that suits them.
According to the Curricular Guidance for pre-school Education “Play is an effective vehicle for fostering Mathematical concepts and developing positive attitudes to mathematics…” This shows that children will be able to successfully deal with more complex problems through play rather than by traditional methods as they are given the opportunity to discover their own way to solve problems. By teaching maths through play, we are allowing children to enjoy the maths that they are learning. Maths will be less daunting as they are learning in a fun and engaging way.
So why can children learn better through play? “Young children engage in significant mathematical thinking and reasoning in their play – especially if they have sufficient knowledge about the materials they are using – if the task is understandable and motivating if the context is familiar and comfortable” (Scholastic) If a child is more engaged in their learning they are more likely to gain a higher level of understanding. If a child is disinterested in their learning they will not be able to take anything from it, therefore the teacher’s precious time will be wasted.
Rather than delivering content rich lessons we should be delivering valuable, engaging and worthwhile lessons. In order to engage more children, we should be delivering lessons that provide them with opportunities to learn in the best way for them. So, learning maths through play can spark new ideas and enthusiasm for the subject and therefore leave children feeling more engaged and confident.
Curricular Guidance for pre-school Education cited in http://www.early-years.org/parents/docs/maths-through-play.pdf