8 Essential Tips for Maths Success in Only 11 minutes a day

MATHS INSIDERS blog (8)

Those of you who are subscribers to the free weekly updates or have been reading Maths Insider during the last month, will know that I’ve been working on a free e-book. Well, the great news is that it’s nearly finished! It’s 26 pages of quick exercises and sound advice titled Yes! You Can Be Your Child’s Maths Tutor!  I’m hoping it will be ready and up on Maths Insider next week!

Another piece of news is that I have a guest post on the Enjoy Birth blog. If you are pregnant, planning on ever being pregnant or know anyone who is pregnant, Sheridan’s birth and hypnobirth blogs contain a wealth of information!

On to this week’s post:

8 things my exercise program can teach you about helping your child with maths

For the past year I’ve been using an iPhone app called 5bx. It’s an exercise program where you carry out 5 basic fitness exercises in under 11 minutes every day. In addition the repetitions and/or the intensity of the exercises increase as you move through the program. It works really well for me because it’s a daily workout which gives me energy and keeps me fit with minimal effort, and 11 minutes a day is so much less painful than one hour long session a week.

It also struck me that this similar to what I’ve been doing with my children and their maths learning since they were preschoolers. My kids have counted objects, played games, completed worksheets and played on-line maths games, almost daily over the years. Little and often has definitely helped with their maths successes so far.

So here are the 8 things my exercise program can teach you about guiding your child to maths success:

1. Start  easy

When I first started 5bx I thought that it was too easy, but starting with the easy workout has helped my body prepare for the harder workouts. In the same way giving your child work that is relatively easy to start with will increase their confidence and help them get used to doing that little bit of extra work each day.

2. Keep it simple

With only 5 different exercises to do, the whole session is easy to carry out. I don’t need any equipment, and only need to check the number of repetitions for each session.  Do the same for your maths sessions. Plan well in advance and know in advance what you’re going to focus on each session. Don’t try to cram too many different things into short sessions.

3. It’s only 11 mins

Of course I’ve missed days, but most days I say to myself, it’s only 11 minutes, and even I have 11 minutes in my day. Give you and your child an easy schedule: start with 5 or 10 minutes a day or even less, but make it an amount of time that you can both commit to every day.

4. Stick to the schedule

I try to do 5bx every day, even if I’ve done another workout or another bit of exercise during the day (yes, walking around the shopping mall can loosely be defined as exercise around here!) For maths, even if my children have maths homework from school, they still do their little bit of extra maths for that day.

5. But also be flexible

There are days when I’m feeling ill, exhausted or just don’t have it in me to even do 11 minutes of exercise. So I don’t. In the same way, if your child has to finish that last-minute geography project, or a surprise guest turns up or there’s a family occasion, then just skip a day or two.

6. Don’t beat yourself up if you miss a day (or month!)

Life happens, just start again the next day, (or the next week, or the next month). When I was setting up this blog, I stopped exercising for over a month, it’s easy to make other things a priority.  Knowing that I didn’t want to lose the level of fitness I’d achieved over the year, helped me start exercising again. In the same way if the extra maths work falls off the schedule, looking back at the positive results and the small amount of time commitment will encourage you to get started again.

7. Try getting it out of the way

The days when I manage to do my 5bx first thing in the morning, seem to be the days when I have plenty of energy during the rest of the day. When I ran a Kumon centre, there were some families who got their Kumon worksheets out of the way by doing them before school. That rarely happened in my house, but before this latest bout of compulsive reading took over, my daughter would be the first to start her extra work and get it out of the way, so that she would then be free to do other things. At the very least, try to have a fixed time each day that is “maths time”

8. Have a long-term goal in mind

I exercise to stay fit. Any short-term weight loss is a bonus. In the same way, the extra maths work your child does will help them in the future, whichever subjects they end up focusing their studies on.  Their short term test results are a bonus.

Have you tried a daily maths homework program? How did it work out? Tell me in the comments below!

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Caroline Mukisa
About The Author: Caroline Mukisa is the founder of Maths Insider. A Cambridge University educated math teacher, she's been involved in math education for over 20 years as a teacher, tutor, Kumon instructor, Thinkster Math instructor and math ed blogger. She is the author of the insanely helpful ebook "The Ultimate Kumon Review" and insanely useful website "31 Days to Faster Times Tables" You can follow her math tips on Facebook and follow her on Twitter @mathsinsider

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6 thoughts on “8 Essential Tips for Maths Success in Only 11 minutes a day

  1. Great points! I’ve been thinking about how difficult it is to get kids to stick to anything for long enough for them to benefit from it. They may start off with enthusiasm but the novelty soon wears off as it does for adults. So, ‘be flexible’ and ‘don’t beat yourself up if you miss a day’ are important advice to bear in mind regarding any kind of target we want to achieve.

    We dressed up our daughter’s revision schedule as an hour of ‘tuition’ with me! The excitement lasted all of two days, then she started turning up late..), I’m still hoping she’ll remember to ‘turn up’ tonight!

  2. Thanks for doing your guest post! :)

    I had my boys doing Quick Tables on Aleks.com this summer and the daily practice did help them to finally get their times tables down. However your post is reminding me that I need to continue to practice a little every day with them!!!!

    • Your welcome Sheridan, I actually enjoyed writing my Enjoy Birth guest post – it was great delay post birth therapy! Thanks for telling me about Aleks.com. I went to their site, it looks quite interesting. I’m going to add it to my list of maths programs to review. How was it for your boys?

  3. Caroline,
    After seeing your comment on my information bender post, I popped over here to check you out. It’s interesting how many your your tips above are similar to tips I’ve given for getting creative work done. We must be doing something right!

    I’m definitely taking these to heart when I work with my kids this afternoon.

    • Yes, a lot of these motivation tips can be easily applied across different topics. When I’m stuck on something, it’s often the solution which I’ve used in another part of my life that I can modify and implement which is the best solution. I’ve subscribed to the email updates for Domesticated Muse so hopefully I can compare and modify solutions for all my blogging, parenting, mind, body and spirit problems (no pressure!)