Monster News

The Joy of Growing Veggies With Kids!

(3 minute read)

A mum and child gardening

The first holidays of the year can seem like a long time coming after a long dark January… But it can be the perfect time to start a growth spurt for you and your little ones - not in height but in seedlings! With loads of benefits to growing your own veg, we explore some quick and easy crops to grow with your little ones this spring break. 

Now is a great time of year to start growing crops, ready to harvest throughout the summer. Providing a much needed connection to nature, bringing your little ones in on the job can provide many benefits: fresh food, help with cooking, the joys of seeing something you have cared for grow and flourish - not to mention that tomatoes from the vine are SO much tastier than the ones from the super market - and are super easy to grow! 

I recommend starting with one easy veg if you’re a complete beginner when it comes to gardening and there are plenty of videos online to help guide you if you get stuck. I have selected a few of my favourites to talk about here. 

Buy seeds that you can plant together so that your kid can witness the full lifecycle of a plant - a great teaching point that will help them out in school too! Courgettes are super fast to grow from seed - just six weeks and you can potentially have your first crop. Get your child to simply drop the seeds into seed tray to start them off indoors early, then show them how to choose the strong ones to transplant into bigger pots (compost the weaker ones). You’ll need to wait until warmer weather to plant them out in the garden, but then just feed them weekly for a good crop. If you don;t have a garden, you can plant them in a large pot at least 45 cm high and 45 cm wide. Your child can start to harvest them when the courgettes are 10cm long - a good chance to practise their mathematical measuring skills too!

Salad leaves are extremely easy to grow from seed, with rocket having large enough seeds for small hands to manage. They can be grown in a window box, meaning you only need a windowsill to start the process. Salad is especially rewarding as it will keep cropping for weeks, especially if you stagger the planting, allowing plenty of healthy dinners while you have a supply! You’ll need to harvest those leaves with scissors though, so adult-assistance may be required for this job. 

With tomatoes, you can actually scoop out the seeds from an existing tomato, but you’ll need to harvest and dry them in advance. Growing them from seed requires a bit more work, planting in seed pots to start them off indoors, then planting out once they have established themselves. Much easier to buy tomato plants that have gone through the difficult seedling part and have been given a good start in life. Encourage your child to water and feed them with tomato food throughout the summer, and pick the fresh sweet red beauties as they fruit.

See this article for more details on how to grow easy crops.

If you’re already playing Teach Your Monster Adventurous Eating, your child may have some idea of the growth cycle of a plant from the garden in the game. Of course, we had to speed up the process in the game so they’d probably have a wildly unrealistic idea of how quick this process is! Planting veg with your kid is a great teaching point for them, to see this in real-time from seed to plate and literally eat the fruits of their labour!

Kay Leathers
Freelance writer and designer

Queenie Bee - Ask me anything!

(3 minute read)

Queenie Bee in the interview booth

Today we sat down with our very own Queenie Bee from Teach Your Monster Number Skills and asked her some questions about her life. We thought it would be a good opportunity for you and your little ones to learn a bit more about her - why don’t you and your kids read it together? Here is a printable version if you’d like the children to read along with you. 

Interviewer: What's your favourite number? 

Queenie Bee: My favourite number has to be 4 - I love how 2 and another 2 make four, that’s 2 twos!

Interviewer: How come you own a number park?

Queenie Bee: Ever since I was a tiny bee I’ve loved numbers. I’d spend hours bumbling along counting flowers and pollen all day long. What I ALWAYS wanted to do is celebrate numbers by combining my other passion — theme parks!

I scrimped and saved counting the pennies, plus a generous donation from my Grandmother Queenie Ay (that’s who I inherited my hair from) I managed to buy a run down old theme park.

Of course, back then it was actually an Alphabet park! Letters absolutely everywhere! I thought ‘nine nine no, this has to go!’ I just had to change it because I love numbers soooooo much and I think everyone should love numbers just as much as I do. 

Interviewer: How much do you love numbers?

Queenie Bee: Oh well how long have you got for this interview? Ho ho! 

Numbers are the best - it is a language everyone can understand, no matter what language you speak. Everyone can learn numbers and they go on and on forever. Not many things can do that you know!

Do you know what - I love numbers so much, I eat number cereal for breakfast, number nuggets for lunch and number salad for dinner! I even dream in numbers! 

Interviewer: If you could build anything in your park what would it be?

Queenie Bee: I’d build a huge statue of me!! Although I don’t think Angela the sea monster would be very happy if she saw it…

Interviewer: Who or what's your biggest Maths inspiration?

Queenie Bee: Whoever invented number bonds, they’re so fun aren’t they?

Interviewer: What's the deal with Angela the Sea Monster?

Queenie Bee: Well Angela can get a little peckish and she has a fondness for submarines and boats. As you can imagine this can be troublesome when trying to get monsters to the park. Luckily she also loves our house band and number based songs. If monsters do well practising numbers, the band will play which cheers her up and we can often get her to spit out submarine parts. And other things.

Interviewer: Isn't turtles a weird way to cross a river?

Queenie Bee: Isn’t a bridge a weird way to cross a river? 

It gives turtles a job to do, what do turtles do where you come from? Nothing. That’s right. Poor turtles don’t have anything to do! Terrible shame, I say. They make an excellent bridge.

Interviewer: Where do you get those outfits from?

Queenie Bee: Well Moo (my cow friend) is actually an excellent tailor and makes them for me - as you can see they are skin tight and in my favourite colour - rainbow! 

Interviewer: Where do numsters come from?

Queenie Bee: Well numsters are an unusual species of monster that come from the top of Mount Numbaro, a mountain just north of Number Park. Once a year, I have to hike up there with a huge sack and get them all from a cave at the summit. This is very hard because as you know, they like to stick in groups mostly - the orange ones love being in tens! Makes them very hard to shove in the sack… anyway they love Number Park because they get to go on the slides and the rollercoaster all day…

Well there you have it, straight from the Queen’s mouth! Stay tuned for more interviews with our other Teach Your Monster Monsters coming soon…

A Reading for Fun Book review!

(3 minute read)

World Book Day is a fabulous day for inspiring a passion for all things reading and books! Of course, here at Teach Your Monster, we’re very passionate about reading, from Teach Your Monster to Read - our game which teaches the building blocks of reading - phonics, all the way through to Teach Your Monster Reading For Fun - our ‘reading for pleasure’ game. We thought World Book Day would be a great opportunity to tell you all about the books in Teach Your Monster Reading For Fun, why we choose them and why we love them so much!

Reading for Fun Bookshelf

Reading for Fun has a library of over 70 books. Al, our Product Manager for Reading for Fun says that the books in the game are a fantastic way to introduce kids to a variety of texts, in a casual, fun way. 

"I’ll avoid being self-indulgent and suggesting you read my very own Teach Your Monster: Football Quiz book, as football and quizzes may not even be your thing! Besides, there are plenty of other top reads in a wonderful collection of free books!"

Here’s Al’s top 5 Reading for Fun books:

Book 1: Teach Your Monster Joke Book
What is it about? I was trying to think of something witty to say here, but nothing can top the wise little gags in this corker of a book. 

Who wrote it? A bunch of hilarious jokers. And it was illustrated by the very talented Rich Wake!

Who would like it? Anyone with a sense of humour?! 

Why would you want to read it? Sometimes it’s nice to just pick up a book and have a flick through. It’s great for one-liners that you keep in your back-pocket for unsuspecting friends!

Book 2: Roger Stevens’ Monster Poems
What is it about? Roger has given us some amazing poems in this gem.

Who wrote it? Roger Stevens

Who would like it? Anyone who likes rhyme, monsters, or plays Reading for Fun! 

Why would you want to read it? You’ll definitely want to read this as you play the Reading for Fun game. The poems are woven in with the game world - which brings everything to life!

Book 3: Seasons

What is it about? It’s a look through the changing seasons. Sit back and read about baby animals, snowy winters and the changing wildlife. 

Who wrote it? Emily Bone

Who would like it? Anyone who wants to learn more about the seasons.

Why would you want to read it? To have a mindful moment with nature. 

Book 4: Astro Girl

What is it about? It’s about a girl, Astrid, who plays with her dad at home, thinking about all the adventures she can have in space! No spoilers, but it has a great ending with Astrid’s mum.

Who wrote it? Ken Wilson-Max

Who would like it? Anyone who loves space!

Why would you want to read it? This book is a great family read! A playful bedtime story with lots of positive messages.

Book 5: Immi
What is it about? It’s about a young girl called Immi who discovers beautiful new things to decorate her igloo with.  

Who wrote it? Karin Littlewood

Who would like it? Anyone who wants to get lost in another world for a moment.

Why would you want to read it? To snuggle up with a story about being creative, using your imagination and making meaningful connections  

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Alex Goss Teach Your Monster

Alex Goss
Teach Your Monster to Read and Reading for Fun Product Manager

What’s the point of World Book Day?

(4 minute read)

Teach Your Monster support World Book Day

World Book Day is an annual celebration of authors, illustrators, books and the joy of reading. Set up by the National Literacy trust, World Book Day is celebrated in schools up and down the country, with pupils asked to dress up as their favourite characters or book titles. This year, World Book Day will be taking place on Thursday 7 March 2024. But is it just a chance for many kids to dress up as Spiderman? Does World Book Day really have an impact on reading? These are the important questions!

As an ex-Primary school teacher, I remember World Book Day fondly and how excited the kids got at being dressed up and having the tokens ready to spend at the pop-up book store in the downstairs hall! I think it provides a strong way to embed a love of reading at an early age, and provides an excellent opportunity for teachers to really hound the point about reading for pleasure and autonomy when it comes to book choice - something that I never quite got in my own learning back in the 80s/90s! I love books now of course, and reading to the little ones was always a great joy in being a teacher. 

More studiously however, The Literacy Trust did a comprehensive report on the impact of World Book Day, which found that it helps children in two ways: aiding all children to become book owners, many for the first time, and by supporting a variety of activities and experiences essential for building life-long readers. 

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With all the book tokens given out on the day and all the very-reasonably priced  £1 books listed on the World Book Day website, it really can help all children get access to physical books. We asked our team which books they would love to give away this World Book Day:

TYM team Book recommendations:

“I'd go for a picture book The Stinky Cheese Man and Other Fairly Stupid Tales by Jon Scieszka and Lane Smith. It's all the tales you know but with a very silly twist and all the tales come crashing together in one chaotic conclusion. Great illustrations and design too. See also The True Story of the Three Little Pigs by the same author.” Darren, Creative Director.

Mr Gum books are the best books” Matt, Game Developer.

What do people do all day by Richard Scarry. Leo, Number Skills Product Manager

Don’t worry little Crab and the other books in the series by Chris Haughton.” Mor, UX Lead

Remember that there are over 70 books in our reading app Teach Your Monster Reading for Fun too!

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On World Book Day, teachers can look to the World Book day website for fun ideas and activities, or use the day to celebrate a book they’ve already been reading in class. They may also dress up as a book character themselves - bringing great joy and a giggle to their pupils! To the parents out there, we know that it can be tricky to put together a decent outfit for World Book Day so here are some of our team’s Top Tips! 

Kid’s dressing up - our TYM top tips

“Hang on to everything you have in a dressing up box. You'll be surprised what you can pull together in an emergency with a flat cap and fake beard.” Darren, Creative Director.

“I remember dressing up as the Snow Queen for world book day many moons ago. My Mum made me this amazing spangly cape with fake icicles and we made a tin foil spiky crown. Great book that!” Alice, Designer.

“Anything can be made with a big enough cereal box - why not cut a head hole in one side and paint the box to look like a book? Then you can put any title on there, with a few simple touches and recycle it year on year (with a different name)” Kay, Freelance Designer.

We have also made these Teach Your Monster to Read printable masks and Reading for Fun printable masks as a free download!

We really hope you have an amazing World Book Day this March 7th and we hope to see some little monsters popping up in your local school! 

Kay Leathers,
Ex-Primary Teacher and Freelancer

What Is 'New Math' And Why Do Parents Find It So Hard?

(4 minute read)

Did you grow up in the eighties and nineties? Have you been helping out with your child's homework? Does the modern math that children learn seem potentially bewildering? We have some answers.

Despite its name, New Math isn’t a new concept. Originating in the 1950s and 1960s, New Mathematics was a fresh approach to mathematics teaching, widely adopted by educators in the US and some parts of Western Europe. The main aim of New Math was to revamp the U.S. mathematics curriculum in response to the demands of the space race, technological advancements, and the pressures of the Cold War. 

Instead of adopting a ‘learning by rote’ approach to simply teaching children formulas and rules they should rigidly follow, New Math was designed to equip learners with problem-solving skills and an ability to apply mathematical concepts to real-world problems. Today New Math simply means updating learning practices to equip students with the skills to not only find the right answers to mathematical problems, but also understand how and why they were able to solve the problems.

New math manipulatives

Why Parents Are Struggling With New Math

The way mathematics is taught has constantly evolved especially since the early reforms of the mid-20th Century. For parents, especially those born in the 80s and 90s, there are significant differences to how they were taught.

Instead of just learning how to do something, like multiply or divide, students are encouraged to understand why these operations work the way they do. This might involve more discussion about the principles behind mathematical operations, rather than just memorizing times tables or formulas.

New Math places a greater emphasis on problem-solving skills — students are encouraged to think critically about how to approach a problem, consider different methods, and understand that there might be multiple ways to find a solution. This sits in stark contrast to the ways many of today's parents were taught where there was one way only to find the right answer. But it's important to understand that this new approach isn't just about getting the right answer — it's about understanding mathematical concepts behind getting an answer and being able to apply them in different contexts. 

The Downsides To New Math

While there are obvious pros to learning critical thinking and problem-solving skills, there are some cons.

Radical changes in learning have created a divide between children and parents who are struggling to support their children with homework. During the global pandemic, where many parents suddenly become home educators, the gap between methods taught 30-40 years ago and those taught today became glaringly obvious.

Another key issue is that New Math uses word-based problems to expand on mathematical concepts. Word problems require a certain level of reading comprehension, where students must be able to read, understand, and interpret the text of the problem before they can begin to solve the mathematical nature of the question. For students with reading difficulties, this can be a significant barrier to math learning.

Using Finger Gnosis as a new math strategy

How Parents Can Embrace New Math

Incorporating New Math methods into daily life in a playful way is actually quite easy. It can be a great way for parents to reinforce what their children are learning in school, and also begin to grasp the concept themselves.

  • Shopping trips are a perfect opportunity to practice math skills. Ask your child to help you calculate the total cost of items, figure out unit prices, or determine how much change you should receive when paying with cash. These simple real-world sums make use of addition, subtraction, and multiplication, not to mention working out percentages when calculating discounts.

  • Cooking at home is another great way to apply math to real life. Recipes are excellent for practising measurements and fractions. Have your child help you measure ingredients ask them to do conversions, or to double or half quantities in recipes.

  • Props such as buttons, coins or Lego can help children (and parents) visualise problems and solutions. If your child is learning number bonds, picking out seven pieces of Lego and splitting them into two and five, and then three and four, can help both you and your child familiarise yourselves with the concept and then understand how it works.

While you’re doing this don’t forget to encourage your child to explain their thinking as they solve a problem - it all helps develop their ability to articulate mathematical concepts. You’ll not only help your child see the relevance and application of what they are learning but also potentially reduce anxiety by making math a normal, routine part of life.

Teach Your Monster Number Skills

How Teach Your Monster Number Skills Helps With New Math

Games such as Teach Your Monster Number Skills are designed using the same principles of modern Math teaching and are a great way to help both you and your child understand mathematical concepts:

  • Helps children practice important mathematical skills and concepts such as number bonds and subitizing using visual manipulatives
  • Uses graphics, animation and voice-over to overcome challenges faced by learners who struggle with reading comprehension
  • Reduces ‘math anxiety’ through encouraging language which reinforces positive learning techniques
  • Helps children and parents learn concepts together, making homework and later learning easier to understand
  • Consolidates and compounds school learning through repetition at home

Encouraging a Love for Reading in Young Minds: A Parent's Guide

Guiding a child through their early educational needs can be a fun filled adventure, especially when fostering a love for reading. For parents and educators, understanding the role of reading for pleasure in 3 to 6 years olds is crucial. We explore the benefits, offer practical parenting tips, and introduce tools and games from Teach Your Monster (and others) that can significantly enhance the reading experience for kids.

The Magic of Reading for Pleasure

Let’s start with a question — why does early years reading actually matter? Well it’s not just about decoding words on a page, it's about opening doors to new worlds, sparking imagination, and building essential social skills. It's a vital component of literacy development, enhancing vocabulary, comprehension, and communication skills. 

Boosting Confidence Through Literacy

Recognising letters, understanding phonics, and starting to read small words are significant early milestones for kids aged 3 to 6 years. Books and educational apps especially designed for early readers, like Teach Your Monster to Read or Reading for Fun, make learning these skills fun, immersive and interactive.

Building a child's confidence is an important stepping stone to building more advanced literacy skills. The more children engage with books (or reading in general!), the more their reading confidence grows. They start to recognise words, get their imagination going, start predicting where the story might go, and make lasting connections with characters they encounter.

Storytime is crucial for fostering a love of reading

Parenting Tips: Fostering a Reading Habit

  • Storytelling Time: Make reading a daily ritual! Whether it's a bedtime story or a mid-day reading break, consistent exposure to books is key. The parents at Teach Your Monster love a reverse bedtime story, where their kid reads the bedtime story to them - why not try this at home?
  • Interactive Reading: Use books and apps that are interactive and age-appropriate. Unsurprisingly we recommend Teach Your Monster Reading for Fun as an excellent example of an app that combines learning with play!
  • Choose Engaging Books: Select books with rich vibrant illustrations and engrossing stories that play into your child's interests.
  • Read Aloud: Reading aloud helps children understand the rhythm and melody of language, making any reading experience more enjoyable.

The Role of Educational Apps

Educational apps for kids can now play a significant role in literacy development. Apps like Teach Your Monster to Read take learning phonics and reading skills and turn them into an exciting rewarding adventure. They can offer a more personalised learning experience, making them a valuable tool for parents and educators alike. 

One of our favourite UK teachers, Adam (Abbott Alphege Academy, 2023) says  “Teach Your Monster Reading for Fun is absolutely fantastic in ensuring that children maintain a passion for reading and they are exposed to a wide range of texts. It’s engaging, it’s fun and it crosses the world of technology with the world of books and today, that’s really important, to bring those two together.”

The life-long journey of reading for pleasure in early childhood is more than just an educational milestone — it's the beginning of a lifelong love for books. By incorporating even just a few of these tips into a routine, parents and educators can help children become confident, and hopefully even enthusiastic readers!

Nurturing Mathematical Minds Through Subitising

Subitising is the ability to recognise 'how many' without counting

Do you know what subitising is? In the world of early mathematics education, subitising has become a pivotal skill, crucial for developing a strong number foundation in 3 to 6 year olds. But what is it? Subitising as a concept that might seem complex, but is actually a simple and fundamental concept in early numeracy. Below we aim to demystify subitising, highlighting its importance through expert insights and practical tips for parents and educators.

What is subitising?

Subitising, as defined by math education experts, is the ability to 'instantly see how many' or framed another way to know the number of objects in a small group without counting them individually, (no finger counting or other aids!)

Here’s an example. On a table there’s two groups of blocks, one with 2 yellow blocks and one with 3 red ones.

2 yellow blocks and 3 red blocks make 5 blocks

How many in total are there? Using conceptual subitising, you can recognise, without counting the individual blocks, the whole quantity as 5 by by perceptually subitising two smaller quantities.

Bernie Westacott, renowned math expert (and Teach Your Monster consultant), emphasises the significance of subitising in early education: "subitising is not just about recognizing numbers at a glance; it's about understanding and visualising number relationships," 

Why is subitising important?

It helps form a solid foundation for complex mathematical concepts. As Bernie notes, "Subitising lays the groundwork for more advanced mathematical thinking, including addition and subtraction." Essentially it's the stepping stone to understanding bigger numbers and mathematical operations.

Regular subitising activities can enhance a child’s numerical fluency, making them more comfortable and confident with numbers.

Subitising aids cognitive development, improving memory, attention, and logical thinking, essential for problem-solving.

Subitising tools in Teach Your Monster Number Skills

Incorporating subitising into daily learning

Here are a few practical tips to incorporate subitising in your day to day activities. 

Educational Apps. Games like Teach Your Monster Number Skills are an excellent way to integrate subitising into children's playtime through engaging, fun activities that reinforce number recognition and relationships.

Everyday Activities. Simple household items can become tools for subitising practice. Using items like buttons, fruits, or toys can make learning more tangible and relatable.

Storytelling and Visual Aids. Incorporating stories and props can make the abstract concept of numbers more concrete and understandable for young minds. Questions like ‘How many’ are very useful for this. Why not have a toy party, where toys come and go and your kid needs to subitise how many are there?

Teach Your Monster Number Skills teaches subitising

Expert Tips for Parents and Educators

Engage in Playful Learning.  Integrating subitising into games and playful activities. As Bernie Westacott suggests, "Make learning a joyful and engaging experience."

Connect with Real-life Examples. Applying subitising to everyday situations to help children understand the relevance of math in their daily lives.

Foster Collaborative Learning.  Group activities encourage children to learn from and with each other, enhancing their social and cognitive skills.

Subitising is such an important step to a deeper understanding and appreciation of numbers in the young mind and it doesn’t take much to start embedding subitising in children's daily activities and play. We hope these tips help!

Understanding Anxiety in Children: Effective Parenting Tips and Educational Apps for a Happier, Healthier Childhood

A worried monster from Teach Your Monster Feelings Demo

For parents and teachers of 3 to 6 year olds, understanding and managing anxiety is one of the many challenges we face. For children this age it’s not just about learning ABCs and 123s —  it's also when children develop emotional intelligence. Anxiety, worry and fears are common, but often misunderstood aspects of child development.

Understanding Anxiety in Young Children

Anxiety in children can manifest differently compared to adults. For a 3 to 6 year-old, anxiety might appear as fear of the dark, separation anxiety, or worries about new experiences. It's a natural part of growing up. However, it becomes a concern when it interferes with their daily activities or development.

Key Signs of Anxiety in Children:

  • Excessive worry about routine activities
  • Reluctance to engage in social interactions
  • Persistent fear or avoidance of specific situations
  • Physical symptoms like headaches or stomach aches
  • Sleep disturbances

Some things that could help with children’s anxiety:

  • Create a Safe and Supportive Environment. Reassuring children that they are safe can help ease their worries. An environment where feelings are acknowledged and discussed openly can significantly reduce anxiety levels.
  • Encourage Expression of Feelings. Using age-appropriate language to encourage a child to express their fears and worries can help them understand and manage their emotions better.
  • Establish Routines. Consistent daily routines provide a sense of security and predictability, which can alleviate anxiety.
  • Model Positive Behaviour. Children often imitate their parents. Displaying calm and confident behaviour in situations that trigger your child’s anxiety can teach them how to react appropriately.
  • Positive Reinforcement. Praising and rewarding children for facing their fears can boost their confidence and reduce anxiety over time.

Educational Apps for Kids: A Modern Approach to Anxiety

Educational apps have become valuable tools in addressing childhood anxiety. These apps can offer engaging ways for children to learn about emotions and coping strategies.

  • Teach Your Monster Feelings (Tiny Demo). We’ve developed a brand new conceptual demo for a game centred around recognising and managing worry. The game encourages kids to take care of their monster. Using exciting new inventions (a Feelings Scanner and Feelings Meter), children can have fun working out what their monster is feeling and helping their monster ease their worry. We hope to turn it into a full game at some point, so any feedback will help us learn and grow on this small slice of gameplay!
  • Mindful Powers. This app focuses on mindfulness for kids, teaching them how to focus their thoughts and calm their minds, which is beneficial in managing anxiety.
  • Breathe, Think, Do with Sesame. A great app for younger kids, it helps them learn to calm down and solve everyday challenges, teaching skills to deal with anxiety.
  • Positive Penguins. This app is designed to help children understand why they feel the way they do and how to shift negative thinking patterns.

By recognising the signs of anxiety, creating a supportive environment, and using tools like games or books, you can help your child navigate their emotions effectively. Remember, every child is unique, and what works for one may not work for another. It’s about finding the right balance and approach for your child!

Here are some printable resources about feelings available for free…

If you’re looking for books about feelings, here’s our Teach Your Monster favourites!
Ruby’s Worry: A Big Bright Feelings Book, Tom Percival, Bloomsbury Publishing
How Are You Feeling Today? Molly Potter, Bloomsbury Publishing
The Colour Monster and The Colour Monster Pop-Up, Anna Llenas, Templar Publishing
All About Feelings, Felicity Brooks, Usborne Publishing
Ravi's Roar: A Big Bright Feelings Book, Tom Percival, Bloomsbury Publishing

Labour's Progressive Approach: Teaching Maths at a Younger Age vs. Conservative's Two-Year Extension

(2 minute read)

In the realm of education policy in the United Kingdom, the Labour Party and the Conservative Party often find themselves at odds over various issues, and one such area of contention is the teaching of mathematics. Labour has proposed a policy to introduce maths education at a younger age, while the Conservative Party advocates for extending compulsory maths education for 16-year-olds by two more years. In this article, we will delve into why Labour's approach of teaching maths at a younger age is superior to the Conservative Party's proposal of extending compulsory maths education.

A young boy works on a maths exam paper.

1. Early Development of Fundamental Skills

Labour's policy to introduce maths education at a younger age recognises the importance of building a strong foundation in mathematics during the early years of a child's education. Research has consistently shown that early exposure to math concepts enhances cognitive development and problem-solving skills. By starting math education at a younger age, children can gradually develop their mathematical skills, ensuring they have a solid grasp of fundamental concepts before they reach secondary school.

2. Reducing Math Anxiety

One of the key benefits of starting maths education early is that it can help reduce math anxiety, a common issue among students. When children are introduced to mathematics in a nurturing and age-appropriate manner, they are less likely to develop a fear of the subject. In contrast, the Conservative Party's proposal to extend compulsory maths education for 16-year-olds may exacerbate math anxiety by forcing students who may already be disinterested or struggling with the subject to continue studying it against their will.

3. Improved Long-Term Academic Outcomes

Labour's policy aligns with research indicating that early math education contributes to better long-term academic outcomes. Early exposure to mathematical concepts has been linked to improved performance in mathematics throughout a student's academic journey. By starting at a younger age, students are more likely to excel in mathematics in later years, leading to higher attainment levels and better career opportunities.

4. Flexibility and Individual Choice

Labour's approach promotes flexibility in the education system, allowing students to choose when they want to engage in advanced mathematics. It recognises that not all students are equally inclined towards math, and some may have different career aspirations that do not require advanced mathematical skills. This approach empowers students to make informed choices about their education path, promoting a more personalised and student-centered learning experience.

5. Addressing Teacher Workload

Implementing the Conservative Party's proposal to extend compulsory maths education for 16-year-olds would put additional pressure on teachers, who are already grappling with heavy workloads. Labour's policy, on the other hand, provides teachers with the opportunity to introduce mathematics in a less rushed and more developmentally appropriate manner, reducing the burden on educators.

In the ongoing debate between the Labour Party and the Conservative Party over mathematics education in the UK, it is clear that Labour's policy of teaching maths at a younger age holds several advantages over the Conservative Party's proposal to extend compulsory maths education for 16-year-olds. Early math education promotes better foundational skills, reduces math anxiety, leads to improved academic outcomes, and provides greater flexibility for students. By focusing on the developmental needs of students and recognising the diversity of their interests and abilities, Labour's approach offers a more balanced and effective approach to mathematics education in the United Kingdom.

All about feelings! Mental Health, Wellbeing, and Feelings in Children at Home and School

(3 minute read)

Did you talk to your kids about feelings on World Mental Health day (10th October)? Missed it? No worries (or any other negative feelings please!) We’re going to discuss how we can help our kids develop healthy ways of talking about their feelings.

Comforting a young kid who is emotional

Recent studies have shown that mental health has declined in almost 40% of school children in England, prompting organisations such as ITV to launch campaigns like Britain Get Talking - with a focus on helping young people communicate their feelings with the people around them. If you have older children, why not try out this handy homework from the campaign with them. 

Just like adults, young kids have a wide range of complex emotions, but don’t necessarily have the language or understanding to express them, or recoginse them in others. This is known as emotional intelligence. The early years of a child's life, spent both at home and in school, play a huge role in shaping their emotional intelligence and overall mental health. One of the increasingly popular methods of developing this in schools is called Social and Emotional Learning (SEL for short). 

SEL means that children should be able to identify and label emotions so children are able to recognise and talk about a range of different emotions; relate feelings and thoughts to behaviours so they can see what triggers and maintains these emotions; and regulate their emotions through learning about simple strategies and tools to manage them. Developing these skills of self-awareness and self-management help build for more success in education, career and life!

Here at Teach Your Monster, we’re really interested in helping this process of emotional development in young children through play. So much so that we are creating an exciting Social and Emotional Learning (SEL) minigame that empowers children to understand and manage their feelings effectively. 

If you have feelings (!) about this topic, we’d love for you to join our Teach Your Monster Feelings Facebook group, where you can share your experiences, insights, and strategies for teaching children about feelings as well as helping us develop the minigame and get exclusive updates on it’s development!

Join our Feelings Facebook group

In the meantime, here are some strategies you could use at home to promote mental wellbeing at home: 

  1. Open Communication: Encouraging open communication with young children is crucial. Create a safe space and time where kids feel comfortable expressing their feelings without judgement.
  2. Emotional Literacy: Teach children to identify and label their emotions. Use books, art, and storytelling to help them recognise and understand different feelings. 
  3. Empathy: Encourage children to understand and show empathy towards the feelings of others. This helps them build social skills, relationships, and emotional resilience.
  4. Healthy Role Modelling: Demonstrating healthy ways to manage stress, express emotions, and resolve conflicts can significantly impact a child's emotional development.
  5. Routine and Structure: Establishing a daily routine provides children with a sense of security and predictability. This stability can reduce anxiety and promote positive mental health.
  6. Encourage Play and Creativity: Play is essential for a child's mental health. Encouraging creative activities helps children express their emotions and develop problem-solving skills.
  7. Physical Health: A balanced diet, regular exercise, and sufficient sleep are essential for a child's overall wellbeing. Physical health is closely linked to mental health. If you have a fussy eater at home, why not try out our free game Teach Your Monster Adventurous Eating to make those foods a little less scary and a lot more fun!

References

ITV’s ‘Britain Get Talking’ Mental Wellness Campaign
Mind - World Mental Health Day
Impetus Social and Emotional Learning Report - Dec 2022

NHS Mental Health of Children and Young People In England Survey - September 2021

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