MathsBuddy is Colette Delargy, a qualified teacher with 30 years experience, the last 14 of which have been spent offering maths tuition to primary and post-primary students, both privately and through schools, in the Newry area, Northern Ireland.
As a student teacher, Colette analysed why children made mistakes in maths and developed techniques to overcome these challenges. Her unique approach has been evolved over the years and now forms the basis of her MathsBuddy work.
When children are struggling to grasp maths, the usual approach is to give them worksheets and problems to solve.
These all have their place in learning but are ineffective when a child doesn't understand the concept.
It's a bit like speaking louder when abroad because the person you're talking to doesn't understand English!
Children learn through games and appropriate resources. It enables them to develop the language of maths in a meaningful way.
This approach removes the fear of maths because they understand the concept.
The role of games and practical work in maths boosts confidence, filling in gaps in knowledge and helping children make sound progress.
Use these fun classes to boost your child’s confidence in mental maths as well as the other maths concepts. They will learn without realising they are.
Classes last 1 hour over a 5 - 7 week period and will have 3 - 10 children in them.
Ever since I was a child, I wanted to teach, and I have been fortunate to achieve this goal. I'm passionate about helping children and adults understand maths as I believe many problems are caused by topics being taught too quickly or without the appropriate teaching materials being used. Or, dare I say, by teachers who maybe were not too comfortable with maths themselves.
As a student teacher, I was very fortunate to analyse why children make mistakes in maths and which materials can be used to rectify these problems. Consequently, mathematical resources form the basis of all my work. By using the correct materials, children can see the maths concept(s) in front of them and start to actually understand the maths. Playing the right games also make mathematical language relevant. This encouragement to talk about maths is so different to many ‘old’ maths classes where maths workbooks were/are the only means of teaching. The maths programme requires children to be much more competent today!
My first teaching post gave me the chance to work with children in the early years. I loved this as children respond so well to practical approaches. To ensure I had a comprehensive grasp of all problems in maths from Primaries one to seven, I worked as a Maths Curriculum Support teacher in the North Eastern Education and Library Board. Working alongside teachers in the classrooms, I introduced more practical methods as a forerunner to using maths workbooks. When appointed as Assistant Principal Officer, I had a team of six, and we were able to achieve so much more. At this stage, assessment in Maths became more of an issue, and I helped write and train both the trainers and teachers.
After six years, I moved to the Southern Education and Library Board as Assistant Advisory Officer where I continued to present training courses to teachers, maths co-ordinators and principals, as well as working in classrooms supporting teachers and children. I was nominated as the primary representative on the Inter-Board Numeracy Steering group where I actively represented the needs of teachers and children and helped form the Numeracy Strategy training which had a very positive impact on the teaching and learning of maths in primary schools throughout Northern Ireland.
When the Education and Library Boards began to stagnate due to massive underfunding from the government, I opted to set up my own centre to help children who were struggling with maths. As I knew from my experience in many classrooms, the majority of children just need time to get to grips with each concept, to use materials that will help them understand the work and then have a chance to practise the topic, as opposed to rushing onto the next topic. Giving children the time to think, learn and consolidate their learning is vital. Neglecting this causes serious problems and should be avoided if children are to thrive. This is the purpose of the group classes and, while they are great fun, the children are learning and developing their thinking skills without knowing it. That's the beauty of games!
Some children do really struggle with maths, however, and they are my lovely challenge. So long as they are happy to work with me, we have a very good chance of making progress. The 1:1 class is the only real way to address their problems. Similarly, if a child is extremely good, the 1:1 class offers him/her more of a challenge than they will usually get in school.
Other children I teach are on the autistic spectrum, and they are genuinely wonderful. To watch them calculate something, that most do by just following a rule and without any real understanding of the process, is incredible. It is they who seem to me to have a far better grasp of what maths is about. Unfortunately for them, it takes them a lot longer to carry out their calculation, and this means that often they can get left behind. However, they will (and do) succeed further down the line with the right help and support.
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