Can Your Child Really Learn Maths By Watching Maths Videos?


This is a guest post by Sandra Wilkes of Real Math in a Minute

Did you know nearly 50% of people watch an online video on any given day?

And “the average person” now watches 7 hours of online videos per week?

And that half of all websites now include a video?

YouTube cupcake
Creative Commons License photo credit: M i x y

(Videos include advertisements, music videos, educational videos, TV shows, movies, how-to’s, family clips, long videos, short ones, free ones, expensive ones and on and on. Anything you want to learn is on a video…somewhere!)

Why have online videos become so popular? According the latest research, online viewing is not a generational shift. It is a technology shift. The number one reason for the popularity of videos is, “I can watch it whenever I want.” That includes watching downloads on the bus going home from work or school, in the doctor’s office (with ear phones, of course), all around the world. Although people watch videos for entertainment, of course, I am focusing on educational maths videos.

Open Book
Creative Commons License photo credit: Dave Dugdale

A video involves the learner more than an inert, lifeless text-book. There is often practice that goes along with a video to reinforce the concept being presented. If you are in the middle of a video and the dog throws up, just hit pause. If you’d really like to take a class at 7:00 PM but it’s family dinner hour, download your video and watch it at your convenience. If you miss something and need to hear it again, play it back. If you get tired, bored, or lost in a concept, step away and rest your mind. It will be there when you get back. If you need a quick review, it is always at your fingertips.

None of those attributes are present in textbook and classroom teaching. Videos do not replace face-to-face teaching or interaction. Nothing can do that. And we certainly don’t want to ‘hole-up’ in a little room glued to a computer all the time. But it can be a great supplement to learning. It can help us catch up when we are absent. It can help us hear a concept explained another way, and we can listen over and over until we get it. Perhaps that is most important.

Woody incontra Magritte / Woody meets Magritte
Creative Commons License photo credit: aldoaldoz

Another crucially important aspect is finding a video “teacher” that works for you: one that speaks to you on your level, meets you where you are, and holds your interest. It takes time to find that match. Another positive aspect in selecting your video teacher is customized teaching. If you need a video on a specific question, you need a video teacher who will custom-make that video for you. When I was a student I was wondering and asking, “I can find the derivative, but what exactly is it?”, or “I know how to get the Standard Deviation but what in the world is it, really?”. They were simple questions, but as a student, I didn’t know. And I didn’t get the answer in class. I could find the derivative all day long, even though I did not know what I had found!

It is most important to have a video teacher who will custom make a video just for you and answer your questions. So whether you are home-schooled, public-schooled, or private-schooled, whether you are an adult returning to school and feel you’ve “forgotten everything you ever knew”, or someone trying to get your GED, there is a good fit out there for you.

I could say “Good luck finding it!” and sign off but instead I will offer a few suggestions. There are free videos and costly videos. There are easy-to-find mathematics classes at MIT online, which I find fascinating, as well as the one-size-fits all slick textbook-company-videos. There are videos chocked full of advertising that could be distracting. There are videos that are boring as dirt, some that talk down to you, some over your head. Again, just like a pair of shoes, find a good fit.

1. Look for a certified teacher. State certified is good. National Board Certified is even better.

2. Ask for a free trial video to see if you like the style.

3. Make sure it is easily accessible.

4. Choose one with supplemental materials for practice, as well as answers so you can check your work.

5. Read the remarks, ratings, comments, and testimonials.

6. Choose videos that are specific, organized, not wandering all over the place.

7. Videos that present material in short chunks and use repetition are best.

8. Choose videos you can stream or download so they are easy to find when you need them.

9. Look for videos custom-made for what you want, and who offers a money-back guarantee if it does not meed your expectations.

10. Find a teacher who specializes in the “level” of video you need. Obviously, a college professor doesn’t speak the same way as someone helping a 7-year old. Algebra can be taught fast or slowly. It can be taught at the Honor’s Level or Beginner’s Level. One could insult you. One could frustrate you.

For sure, videos will continue to grow in popularity among all age groups. Be open to the value they can bring you far beyond entertainment.

Sandra Wilkes is a National Board Certified Mathematics Teacher. See her algebra and geometry videos available at

News Flash!

I’m pleased to announce that this Wednesday 28th September at 9:30pm Eastern Time/ 4:30pm UK time, I’ll be appearing live at the Math Future weekly online event hosted by Maria Droujikova, a maths blogger and consultant. During the event, you’ll have a chance to ask me questions live!

Click this link to find out more: 




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