Developing confidence and Maths skills with Smartick
Numeracy skills are so important. We use maths in so many aspects of our every day lives that it is crucial that we develop these skills from as early as possible. I took A level Maths, and although I never found it easy, I was a resilient learner who always persisted with something no matter how hard it was. I was always well aware of the benefits of being able to solve mathematical problems. Maths is seen as being a hard subject. In the technological age that we live in, we carry around powerful computers that can do numerical processing for us, but we should still develop a basic understanding and competency in using maths.
At the start of Year 2, Freyja started to tell me that she was finding maths “too hard”. Her teacher assured me that she was good at maths, but it was clear that her confidence was starting to get a bit shaky. Thankfully I was approach by team at Smartick to see if the girls would like a trial of their online maths learning programme. As the programme is designed for children aged 4 to 14 years old. It is unique in that it uses Artificial Intelligence technology to allow each child to progress at their own pace. It was a resounding yes from us to give it a go!
Each Smartick session last for 15 minutes. During this time, the child will work on mental calculation and algebra whilst also developing problem-solving and critical thinking. Smartick recommend that children do their session at least five times week in order to gain the full benefits from the programme. Both girls were keen to get started with Smartick. Smartick can be used on a PC or tablet. Mine definitely found it easier to use on a tablet. It also meant they had more flexibility in when and where they did their sessions. They have even done them whilst sat on the toilet!
During each session, children can earn stars for their performance. They can gain bonus starts for logging in every day too. These stars can then be spent in the Smartick “shop”. The girls LOVE this feature. At the end of every session, they are keen to see how many stars they have, and head straight over to the shop to buy items to customise their avatars, or “rooms”. They have also saved up to buy a pet each! The reward system has definitely helped keep them motivated to do the sessions. It can be really hard to fit them in. When the girls are in school and then after school club, time is at a premium, especially when they also have homework, reading practise and spellings to learn. However, the girls see Smartick as being a bit different from their other work, and definitely fun, so there has never been any issue in persuading them to do their maths sessions.
Another feature of Smartick that the girls really enjoy is the games. All the games in Smartick and scientifically designed to reinforce cognitive skills: perception, attention, memory and logical reasoning. The best thing, is that they see the games as being something fun to do, and a reward for doing their maths sessions. They don’t even realise that they are learning!
Freyja doesn’t like getting things wrong. I am trying to instil in her the mantra that “mistakes are where the learning starts”, but it is taking time for her to realise that making mistakes and getting things wrong are fine. She gets cross with herself when she gets one of the problems wrong, but at the end of each session, there is the opportunity to correct mistakes – and earn more stars for doing so! The opportunity to be rewarded for having another go at a problem is very powerful, and does seem to be helping with her confidence.
I tend to sit with the girls whilst they do each session. Generally, they are able to understand what they need to do for each exercise, but occasionally I have had to explain to them what they need to do. However, at the end of each session I receive an email with their results from that day. I can also log into the parent page for more information on how they are each performing.
Every-so-often, the girls receive a “diploma” for completing a revision session. My girls do love a certificate. I am able to print these out for them so they can have a hard copy rather than just a digital one. It does give them a real sense of achievement when they have been awarded a certificate.
When I was first told about Smartick, it was emphasized that the ability for each child to work at their own pace would be key to building self-confidence, avoiding frustration, and developing a positive attitude to maths. We have been using Smartick for over 3 months now and the girls are still really enjoying it. I haven’t heard Freyja telling me that maths is “too hard” for quite some time, and both of them seem to be really gaining in confidence with their maths skills. I would definitely recommend giving Smartick a go, and you can sign up for a free trial over on their website. Here you can find out more about their payment plans which offer discounts for siblings and longer subscription length.
Disclaimer: We were provided with a 3 month free trial for both girls to use Smartick, but as always, all thoughts and opinions are our own.