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Maths - Pick up a simple sum

What it's all about

I have always loved maths, ever since I was 5 and won my first maths prize. I would spend hours on my toy computer playing mental arithmetic games over and over, until I had scored the highest marks possible, writes Rachel Riley.

This gave me confidence with numbers. But, in a subject with right or wrong answers, children can all too quickly decide they do not have a "maths brain" and switch off.

We need to encourage young minds to love maths from an early age: first, for the individual, who in everyday life needs to be confident with numbers, whether it is for work or financial budgeting; second, for the country and the economy.

Schemes such as the National Young Mathematicians' Award help. It is an annual event run by Explore Learning that celebrates children who show promise in the subject. In 2012, more than 650 teams from primary schools took part and five participated in a grand final at the University of Cambridge.

Run in partnership with the university's maths enrichment team NRICH, the competition presents "low-threshold, high-ceiling" problems, suitable for all abilities but more able pupils are fully stretched.

It is so important for children not to be bored in maths. If they are good, challenge them more. If they are struggling, let them master the basics before moving on to anything more complicated. The key is to make maths fun.

National Young Mathematicians' Award:

What else?

Cover 2D and 3D shapes, multiplication, fractions, decimals and percentages using mkem's double-sided maths mat. bit.lyMathsMat.

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