Five ways Numicon can support a Recovery Curriculum for Maths

Children and teacher using Numicon

In April 2020, Barry Carpenter, the UK’s first Professor in Mental Health in Education, at Oxford Brookes University, called for a recovery curriculum post Covid -19. This gained momentum as schools started to open up more widely in the summer term and reported their key focus to be re- establishing relationships, routines and wellbeing before turning attention to assessment (Oxford University Press Educational Research Forum May 2020). Although Maths is not a linear subject: branching, folding and making links between ideas and concepts, it is taught by building upon what is already understood. These fundamental concepts speed up understanding and support generalisation. Because of this, there will need to be careful consideration for teaching and learning, as this extended period of disruption has created different learning experiences both in school and at home. These varied experiences, whilst in lockdown, could mean that children are re-entering school having learnt many varied and different things. Children will have forgotten fundamental concepts teachers thought were secure and have developed new errors and misconceptions in mathematics that will need addressing.  

Each school, year group and class will have a range of abilities, with some requiring catch-up and intervention. The Numicon approach to teaching maths helps children to see connections between numbers and mathematical ideas. It involves is a multi-sensory way of learning, which makes concepts ‘visible’. The hands on nature of Numicon aids understanding and visibly exposes errors and misconceptions. Regardless of a child’s starting point, potential ‘lost learning’, or the errors and misconceptions that may have developed during lockdown, the Numicon product series offers a solution to every child of every ability. The teaching activities and manipulatives are well-placed to support ‘in the moment assessment’ for learning, as well as subsequent planning and teaching to meet the learning needs of children in primary maths lessons. Here are 5 ways that Numicon can help to support your recovery curriculum.

1. Virtual Teaching and Planning for Progression

The new digital Teaching Handbooks provide planning and teaching support, front of class prompts, maths activities and assessment materials, which can be easily accessed at any time, anywhere, on Numicon Online.   The Teaching  Handbooks are searchable by concept and year group. This means that teachers can view content from other year groups to plan for progression. They can also search for activities where a gap in knowledge and understanding has already been identified.  The Teaching Handbooks are fully supportive of gap teaching, allowing teachers to find appropriate and engaging activities to focus and motivate their class and have everything to hand for front of class and virtual teaching. For a limited period you can try Numicon Online for free – contact your local sales rep to find out more.

2. Digital Manipulatives

Also accessible via Numicon Online is the Interactive Whiteboard Software (IWB). This BETT award winning resource allows for virtual manipulation of Numicon apparatus, replicating what is done on table-tops with concrete materials to support maths learning in a blended classroom. It can be used in live virtual lessons by sharing or projecting the screen to support the visual and pictorial aspects of learning.  Teachers can find a series of demonstration videos to support them getting the most out of the IWB for specific concepts and lessons.   

3. Revisiting Concepts in Key Stage 2

Numicon Big Ideas is a programme that provides engaging activities for the key concepts in upper Key Stage 2, where children in years 6 and 7 who haven’t met age related expectations need to return to concepts taught in years 4 and 5.  This year, it could provide an excellent bridging resource for children who need to revisit these key concepts on entering years 6- and 7. 

4. Supporting those with Existing Maths Difficulties

Numicon Breaking Barriers was written to support the teaching and learning of maths for children with additional needs. It focuses on the early foundation concepts in maths first taught as children in year 1. However, this resource is extremely versatile as it contains a diagnostic assessment, which pin points activities that can be used to build a tailored programme or support gap teaching. This would be a particularly useful tool for children who are moving to years 2 or year 3, may have developed gaps in their learning and understanding of mathematical concepts taught and have missed maths lessons due to school closures this year. 

5. Securing Foundations and Bridging the Gap

At the beginning of each Numicon Teaching Resource Handbook are a set of Getting Started activities to re-engage children with Numicon manipulatives. These provide hands on, accessible and engaging activities to support children in their mathematical learning. As stated above, these can now be accessed electronically via Numicon Online.

Securing Foundations can be found at the beginning of the printed year 1 Teaching Resource Handbook or via Numicon Online. These activities were designed to bridge the gap between the Early Years and National Curriculum. These can be used as stand-alone activities or as a pre teaching, revisit of early years concepts and activities before the new year 1 content is introduced. Due to disruptions to the learning experiences of Reception aged children, these provide a go to set of age appropriate, hands on activities to support a return to full teaching in the autumn term. 

It’s clear there’s an urgency of recovery for children returning to school and the resources used will need to have proven impact. Numicon saves teachers’ time, provides engaging activities to motivate and support learners and is fully supportive of a recovery focused curriculum for the next academic year.  

To find out more about Numicon and the resources available get in contact with your local sales representative.

This article was written by Louise Pennington, Professional Development Leader for Numicon at Oxford University Press.