Why the basics are so important when it comes to maths

5 min

What happens if we miss an important mathematical concept at school? Research shows that it can turn maths into a loaded subject that we’d rather avoid. What’s more, this can also make it more difficult for us to keep up in future lessons and to manage money and finances.

“That's why it’s important to learn the basics first,” says Robin Karlsson, educator and head of content at Albert.

For being such a logical subject, maths often evokes strong feelings among students and adults. Maths anxiety is a widely researched topic and many education experts are looking for ways to make maths less of a loaded subject.

A huge challenge to both students and teachers is that maths builds upon maths — in other words, new concepts build upon the older ones you learnt before.

“If there was a certain concept that you missed or didn’t understand, it will be more difficult to learn the next step as it builds on existing knowledge. And so you end up lagging behind, which can make maths even more closely linked with anxiety and worry compared with other subjects at school,” says Robin Karlsson.

For example, it can be tough to understand how fractions work if you haven’t got to grips with percentages first. Similarly, understanding positional notation will make things easier when it comes to moving decimal points.

Maths anxiety lingers into adulthood

A report from 2019 confirmed that people who think they are bad at maths tend to avoid the subject all together – despite the fact that they possess both the knowledge and the skills to solve problems with just a little effort.

What’s more, it has been demonstrated that the maths kids learn at nursery and primary school can help a great deal when solving more advanced problems. Mastering the basics increases your chances of understanding more advanced concepts such as algebra.

One way for teachers to deal with the challenge is to start from the students' actual understanding, rather than focusing on what the curriculum says students should be able to do at that age. It is also important to try to increase understanding of how concepts work, rather than teaching students how to imitate a formula to solve a problem.

Parents can prevent maths anxiety at an early age by creating curiosity about mathematics and learning through Albert. With Albert, the child gets a safe foundation to stand on and the opportunity to repeat concepts that seem difficult.

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