Making a connection

These delightful little drawings were done for me on our BitPapers, by a 9-year-old pupil who I have now been teaching online for a month. She came to me with severe Maths Anxiety and was unable to cope with Maths at her school. She was deep into a cycle of anxiety. A couple of sessions in, she is laughing, joking, and happily drawing me pictures and engaging well with our Maths lesson. A complete change in her feelings towards maths in less than a month!

A child's drawings of animals. 
Making a connection.
E’s drawings

What magic have I managed to do, you may well be asking? No magic, just loads of empathy and other strategies which help bring down the anxiety and the barriers to learning and have enabled her to start to enjoy Maths and learning again. 

To sum up some of the main ones:

  • 😊Acknowledging her feelings and allowing her to feel heard and her opinions validated. 
  • 😊Rewards for each small part of the lesson that she engages with, which is called Gamification. For her, she can draw on the BitPaper whiteboard as a reward. 
  • 😊Plenty of game-based learning. Simple games I have made up myself on the BitPaper. 
  • 😊She is very into the Dogman books by Dav Pilkey. I understand why she does as they are aimed at her age group. But what she also particularly loves about all his books is that she knows that he is also Dyslexic and has ADHD, just like her. That makes her feel a connection to the author. She knows that I have Dyslexia and ADHD, too and has done from when she first met me – I have made no bones about my Neurodiversity. It obviously matters to her that she doesn’t feel different when she is with me or have to mask her wonderful quirky nature. We have solidarity, and that helps her feel ok about herself. 
  • 😊Allowing her ‘to be the expert’ also helps raise her confidence. She has been teaching me how to draw each of the characters in the stories. She glows with pride as she shows me how and watches me try to copy her. 
  • 😊Feeling like she has no time pressure in what we are doing helps relieve pressure on her working memory and processing speed. I give her as much thinking time as she needs. 

Now you may not be Neurodiverse yourself, but reaching out to pupils on common ground does help, whatever that commonality is. 

If you would like to know more about these and many other strategies, I am about to launch a new series of Tutor training courses. Learn at your own pace in a modular online course. 


Click here to find out more

Making connections 
Training courses for Tutors

Jackpot Maths is the trading name for the Training and Resource branch of JMB Educational Services Ltd.

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