My memories of school maths are not fun. They are dominated by visions of me as a teenager fighting back tears as my dad grows increasingly frustrated with my inability to put his well-meant homework help into practice. Similar scenes occur on a nightly basis in homes up and down the country and are exactly the kind of homework hell that husband and wife innovators Ian and Lisa McCartney hoped to avoid when they developed a mathematical board game to help improve the numeracy skills of their children. Parental pedagogical interventions are not rare, of course, and they are often not welcomed by schools. Where the McCartneys' idea differs is that their children’s school has actually adopted the strategy for all the students at the school. The game, called Plyt, challenges players to multiply a number of dice together in a race to reach the winner square before their opposition. Anyone can play, no matter their age or ability; younger players can simply add or count the numbers on the dice while more experienced players can test themselves by multiplying up to six dice within the allotted time. “The beauty of this game is that you can step up the challenge by adding more dice as players grow in confidence,” says Ian. “We were thrilled when the school asked what we were doing differently at home as they could see a marked improvement in the children’s maths ability. That was when we really thought that we might be on to something.” The school has now bought a copy of the game for each classroom and also plans to sell it in the school shop, where it may prove to be the perfect antidote to homework-related tears before bedtime.
The McCartneys' success may also persuade other schools to take suggestions from parents more seriously in the future. Read the TES feature about the funny side of maths: Figures of fun
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