Although we’re breaking new grounds in the use of technology in teaching and learning, we remain firm believers in the old-fashioned mantra ‘practice makes perfect’. It’s certainly the case that with maths – the more you do, the better you get (with the proviso that you are practising at your threshold, or Zone of Proximal Development.)
Build good habits
Sometimes it’s easy to let good intentions slip, so here are some tips to build good habits and build that ‘streak’. None of these are our own – as you might guess, we know a lot of people who do DoodleMaths and DoodleEnglish, and love hearing how it works for them!
1. Put aside a few minutes each day for DoodleMaths. Ideally this will be at the same time each day. Our own son, Ted, is an early riser, and he does his DoodleMaths whilst I’m still getting to grips with my first cup of tea. His friend is allowed 30 minutes Minecraft time before tea every day – but only if he has first done his DoodleMaths. And his cousin Poppy does her DoodleMaths whilst her younger brother is reading his Biff, Chip and Kipper books every evening.
2. Amelie does her DoodleMaths on the school run every day. Her mum reckons she does an extra 75 minutes of maths per week in this way, and they still have time for a chat (it’s one of those school runs…)
3. If doing it daily is tricky, try doing a good bulk weekly. Owen does his DoodleMaths for 30 minutes every week whilst Molly has her swimming lesson – and then they swap when it’s Owen’s turn to get in the water. It doesn’t matter then if he only does one or two more short sessions that week.
4. Maisie is admittedly irregular in her usage in term times – her mum is a teacher and Dad works long hours. But she picks it up rapidly every holiday, doing 15-30 minutes daily to keep her brain active. If she’s had a break of more than a month from it, mum goes to the parent dashboard to recalibrate the programme to her level, strengths and weaknesses.
Tips for regular usage
There are many reasons why it can be difficult to build a healthy habit. Here are our suggestions for overcoming some of the most frequent issues that prevent regular usage:
a) Tablet is always out of battery/lost/under the sofa/being used by Dad etc.
If this is common with you, make sure you are making the most of DoodleMaths’ best feature: cross device synchronisation. Download the free DoodleMaths app onto any touchscreen device or smart phone, and log in to your family account. This way, your child can do their DoodleMaths on whatever device is easiest at hand. Stuck in that morning traffic? Hand your child your phone, and the work they do will synchronise to the iPad ready for them to resume at tea-time.
b) Work programme is too hard. Children lose motivation if they keep getting things wrong – and maths is all about confidence. DoodleMaths calibrates the work to balance reward with challenge. If your child is finding it too hard, force a recalibration from the parent dashboard, and then ensure they have no help when the app is in assessment mode – if they do receive help, the algorithms will assume they are more able than they really are.
c) Child needs incentivising. Set targets for your child. Our studies have shown that 50 stars per week will help your child keep up, and 100 stars per week to catch up or get ahead. Make your child aware of this. Some children are motivated by knowing their DoodleMaths Age, others by stars, some by their pet/robot/coach. Some like to spend stars messaging friends, some like to be top of the leaderboard, and others like to build their streak. Maybe it’s whether they’re on 5, 6, 7, 8, 9 or 10-a-day. Sometimes, only ice-cream or pocket money will do (and, btw, that’s fine in our household!). Find out what incentivises your child.
I hope this helps. Practice is the key – a few minutes every day can rapidly mount up over the course of weeks and months and make a truly significant difference to your child’s maths.