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Who is Maths4Parents? My story

I know what it’s like to struggle with maths – to actually shake with fear when confronted with numbers and symbols that make absolutely no sense.

I left school with no maths qualification. It wasn’t until I was already married with two children and looking into doing a degree – and discovering that I’d need a maths GCSE grade C to even apply to the university of my choice – that I decided it was time to squash that particular gremlin.

I got my C and did my degree, graduating from The University of Cambridge in 2001. I then applied for a place on a teacher training course, whilst working in a voluntary capacity at my children’s school.

Even with a maths GCSE under my belt, I watched teachers explain to eight- and -nine-year-old children concepts that were a revelation to me. I realised that what I could do in maths had been learned ‘by rote’, without any real understanding as to what I was doing and how numbers worked. This meant I quickly forgot so much of the stuff I’d needed to pass my GCSE, but watching primary school teachers show children how it all worked, I was finally beginning to really understand.

Once I started my teacher training, the pace picked up – especially when I was assigned a year six class where some of the kids were already at a high secondary standard. Many was the time I had to sit up all night teaching myself a maths concept so I could then pass on my newly-acquired knowledge the following day.

It was during these night-time sessions that I discovered the best ways to help me understand some of the more complex concepts (such as calculating with fractions and understanding ratio). I devised methods involving objects, colours and patterns – things that could be moved around and visualised. Abstract concepts just would not sink in.

Even after moving from primary to become a secondary English teacher, I found myself helping students from my year 11 form group with their maths. I kept hearing the same familiar complaints: ‘I don't get how/ why that works’; ‘I can't remember that method because it doesn't make sense’; ‘I feel stupid having to ask the same thing’, ‘I'll never understand maths …’ All the things I had said about maths at school.

I began helping my struggling pupils, using the same methods I’d taught myself during my early primary career, and was astonished at how much I was able to help.

By 2013, I was working as a private tutor with students of all ages – including adults – and discovering that my way of understanding maths worked for many who, just like me, didn’t feel a natural affinity with the subject.

Word-of-mouth recommendations resulted in a long waiting list of parents who wanted me to help their children (as well as older people who needed a maths qualification for their chosen careers). I tried to help as many as I could by creating videos that could then be forwarded to more than one pupil.

And that’s where I am today: providing maths tutorial videos for those who find maths tricky – whatever their age.

 

You can read a more in-depth account of my struggles with maths, and my journey toward helping others, in myblog – here are the links -  part 1andpart 2  (Yes, it’s been a long journey!)

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