Ideas for after school maths clubs that don’t suck
It’s an unusual child who doesn’t find maths dull and boring at some point during their school life, no matter what their natural aptitude for the subject might be. Children who have less natural ability for maths may also find it at first baffling, then later quite scary as they fall further and further behind. An inspirational and fun after school club can help children of all abilities and mindsets over maths. Here are some ideas which could help you to seek one out that doesn’t, in the words no doubt of your child, ‘suck’.
- Don’t make it like school – encourage children to be relaxed and comfortable, and dispense with the need for school uniform. The less the child sees it as being part of school and more like a social club with friends, the more receptive they are likely to be.
- Make the maths practical – a frequent cry, especially from older children, is that what they learn in the classroom isn’t useful to them, and this automatically makes them switch off. Concentrate on important arithmetic skills, such as adding up shopping items, or how to budget their allowance effectively, so that they start to learn skills that they will use when budgeting for their home in later life. Do introduce concepts like Venn diagrams (useful for anything from gift buying to food shopping!), fractions and equations almost by stealth; the more relevant they appear, the better.
- Make the maths fun – apply maths to their everyday lives; children who are keen watchers of any programme with phone votes will enjoy learning how the public can overturn any scoring or comments by judges, and working out the maths for themselves.
- Show how maths is part of every other subject – show how maths is part of everything from PE to Art; how footballers will have to calculate angles when they take a shot at goal, and how artists have to understand perspective to paint and draw realistically. In other words, show them how maths is most definitely for them, as it’s part of everything they do!
- Develop maths problems that are multi-level – this will encourage children with less natural ability, and stretch those that are more able to solve complex questions. Encourage children to explain their working in their own words; sometimes peer help is more effective than assistance from a class leader.
After school clubs can sometimes be stressful for a child that is already overworked; if regular attendance isn’t possible, but you feel they still need extra maths help, consider a holiday club. Many schools, such as Rossall School, run holiday clubs that are for children that aren’t already pupils as well as those that are. The social element of these, including the excitement of meeting new friends, can often make them very appealing, and make learning easy as the children are more relaxed and receptive.
Maths might seem like a mystery, but there are many ways to make it fun to learn.