Essex County Council team up with Bobby Seagull to help families embrace the ‘Everyday Magic of Maths’

Education: Secondary / Sun 17th Mar 2024 at 09:19am

WITH fresh research that reveals almost half of Essex parents surveyed do not feel confident when helping children with maths homework (44%)(1), Essex County Council (ECC) has teamed up with celebrity maths expert, Bobby Seagull, to provide a series of fun and accessible tips that will encourage families to embrace the ‘Everyday Magic of Maths’.

Launching on the International Day of Maths (14 March), the collaboration plays a key part in ECC’s £1.5m Essex Year of Numbers initiative, designed to help children and young people of all ages thrive in numeracy. In direct response to statistics which showed the KS2 and KS4[3] grade gap for disadvantaged children in Essex is wider that the national average, ECC is running a series of engaging events and activities across the year, whilst also providing support for Essex parents, carers and teachers.

Bobby Seagull, mathematics teacher, broadcaster, and author of ‘The Life-Changing Magic of Numbers’ said; “It is our collective responsibility to help the next generation break down barriers when it comes to maths, and develop a genuine love of numbers, both inside and outside of the classroom.

“Maths can help make sense of the world around us, open new doors and allow us to see very normal things in an exciting new light. By encouraging children to proactively look around them and find examples of using numbers in their everyday life, we are inviting them to enjoy the magic of maths from a young age.

“From understanding football results and writing rap lyrics, to baking a cake and learning a new dance, there is always a lot of fun to be had with maths, for children and adults alike.”

ECC’s research has also uncovered that 9 in 10 Essex children think it’s important to be good at maths when they grow up, with over half of Essex parents (52%) believing that good maths skills will help their children in a wide variety of future careers in later life. With evidence showing that parents’ and carers’ positive attitude towards numbers has the biggest impact on a child’s success[4], Bobby is offering the following tips to help families regularly embrace the Everyday Magic of Maths:

Bobby’s top tips:

Many children enjoy following sport – whether its football, the darts (especially following 16-year-old Luke Littler’s recent success!) or tennis. There’s an opportunity to talk about league tables, rankings, finances and averages. You’ll often find commentators regularly talking about statistics when discussing performance too. Use sport on TV as a chance to engage children about the role of data in comparing performances of their favourite players and teams. They can justify why certain performance outranks others using statistics.

Children form attitudes towards money by age 7. So, the younger you can have discussions with them about the value of money, the better. When you’re out and about doing the shopping, provide them with an idea of how much you want to spend and challenge them to select items within the budget. If you’re also able to encourage children to save pocket money, this can get them thinking about saving long term for the things they really want.

Whether it’s a family holiday, a fun day out or simply a trip to the supermarket, parents and carers will often travel with their children. This requires advanced planning with car journeys, distances, times and speeds to consider. Even taking public transport can require reading and understanding bus or train timetables. Try to get your children to help with the planning so they can see the numeracy skills needed to get from A to B!

Music is everywhere – in school assemblies, on the car radio or at birthday parties. There are so many numbers here; whether it is beats, song lengths or even looking at chart rankings. One of the first ways children learn counting is through rhythm, so it’s a great way to ease them into recognising the patterns and sequences in music that are fundamental to maths.

Who doesn’t love eating – especially sweet treats! Baking in particular is full of maths. There are ratios, temperature conversions, capacities and volumes to consider. Invite your children to look at ingredient packets and instructions on how to cook things – consider how a meal for 2 can be doubled to a meal for 4, for example. You can also use programmes like Junior Bake Off or episodes with their favourite YouTube chef to get imaginations flowing.

With only 19%[5] of Essex parents regularly talking about maths at home, Bobby’s top tips have been specifically designed to provide easy talking points and activities for families to introduce into their everyday routine.

Councillor Tony Ball, Cabinet Member for Education Excellence, Lifelong Learning and Employability at ECC said: “Our research has shown us that both adults and children recognise the importance of good numeracy skills, but it’s clear that there is a gap in confidence that needs to be addressed.

“Through our collaboration with Bobby, we hope families across Essex will be inspired to embrace the magic of maths and identify new and fun ways to strengthen numerical skills in their everyday lives.”

There are a lots of Essex Year of Numbers events and activities happening across the county this month. Children over 7-years old are encouraged to attend regular ‘Lab in the Library: Fun with Numbers’ and ‘Lego in the Library’ events where they can use creative play to strengthen maths skills and numbers to solve puzzles, riddles, and experiments.

Young people aged 12 to 18-years-old are also invited to learn DJ skills and get hands-on experience through regular ‘Count Me In’ music sessions, with free weekly classes taking place at youth centres in Basildon, Brentwood and Harlow.

For full access to Bobby’s top tips, please visit www.essex.gov.uk/news/2024/Bobby-Seagull. To find out more about upcoming Essex Year of Numbers events and activities, visit www.essexyearofnumbers.co.uk or email [email protected].

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