Discussing football and reading road signs are among the top tricks used by parents to improve their children’s maths skills

A study by Santander UK of 1,000 parents and 1,000 children, aged 6-14, revealed how mums and dads take advantage of real world experiences to engage their children with numbers.

Counting money was among the most popular ways to help children learn, followed by reading and adding up shopping lists.

And sport plays a vital role too - with parents discussing statistics from games, getting their children to count down the clock and also ask them to read and write sports reports.

Alongside sport, parents also used trips in the car as a way to discuss numbers - getting their children to count certain coloured cars, read registration plates and identify speed limits of road signs.

More than three quarters of parents (78 per cent) said these everyday scenarios are useful for motivating children to learn about maths, spelling, reading and geography.

While 69 per cent said sport, and understanding match and players statistics in particular, was helpful in getting their kids better understand maths.

Parents also finding difficulty

The survey, commissioned by Santander UK, revealed more than half (59 per cent) of the UK’s mums and dads found this subject difficult when they were younger - leading to struggles with financial literacy later in life.

As a result, 79 per cent are using everyday experiences to help their children develop an interest in numbers.

Kids were found to be twice as likely to be excited or inspired by popular footballers over Isaac Newton.

More than three quarters (78 per cent) of 6-14-year olds said they enjoyed hearing about the numbers in a game such as how far a player has run and how much time is left in the match.

And half of the children questioned (49 per cent) enjoy talking to their parents and friends about the numbers in sports.

Just over four in 10 (42 per cent) of the children surveyed said they struggled with maths - with 80 per cent acknowledging the importance of the subject in later life.

Numbers game

In response, UEFA Champions League partner Santander has joined forces with BT Sport pundit Rio Ferdinand and Twinkl to release 'The Numbers Game Champions Challenge Cards'.

The free-to-download football-themed maths videos and maths learning materials will target schoolchildren aged between 5 and 14.

The activity will feature 44 of Europe’s finest footballers appearing as caricatures and animations in 11 promotional films hosted by the former England captain.

Santander ambassador Rio Ferdinand, who won the UEFA Champions League with Man United, said: “As a dad of three school-aged children, with a son on the way, I’m very passionate about making sure that kids have the best education possible.

“The home-schooling experience during lockdown really opened my eyes to how challenging it can be to get children engaged with their schoolwork, especially maths.

“The beautiful game of football is made up entirely of numbers and has the transformative power to motivate children as much inside the classroom as it can outdoors.

“I’m proud to be representing this campaign and excited about its implementation in schools and homes all over the UK.”

- SEPTEMBER 02: Rio Ferdinand Launches Champions Challenge Cards on 2nd September 2020. (Photo by Getty Images/Getty Images)- SEPTEMBER 02: Rio Ferdinand Launches Champions Challenge Cards on 2nd September 2020. (Photo by Getty Images/Getty Images)
- SEPTEMBER 02: Rio Ferdinand Launches Champions Challenge Cards on 2nd September 2020. (Photo by Getty Images/Getty Images)

Sports offers a helpful hand to most

More than half (52 per cent) of parents surveyed by OnePoll say the mental arithmetic required to follow sports like football and golf has made them more aware of numbers and stats in real life.

While 53 per cent felt the use of influential sporting figures and role models would have intellectually stimulated them during their own time at school

Almost two thirds (62 per cent) would advocate using sport as a means of understanding maths better.

Santander has teamed up with online educational publisher Twinkl to ensure the content reflects the curriculums taught in Britain’s classrooms.

The Numbers Game platform was first developed by Santander in 2019, in partnership with the bank’s official charity partner, National Numeracy, an independent charity committed to transforming number confidence and competence in adults and children.

As a nationwide, educational, football-themed roadshow, The Numbers Game aimed to help people to enjoy and feel more comfortable working with numbers.

Since then, the roadshow has visited 12 UK cities, engaging over 30,000 people, with 85 per cent of participants surveyed saying they now have a better understanding of the importance of numbers in everyday life.

Another 86 per cent say they now believe being confident with numbers helps them manage their money better.

Nathan Bostock, CEO of Santander UK, said: “It’s great to see parents are using everyday activities as a way to boost school aged children’s confidence with numbers, particularly when it comes to everyday finances.

“We are determined to tackle financial exclusion so, together with Twinkl and Rio Ferdinand, we’re delighted to further evolve our football-themed Numbers Game programme.

“By bringing the excitement of the UEFA Champions League into learning, it ensures children can develop their numeracy skills in a way which is both educational and entertaining.”

The Numbers Game Champions Challenge Cards can be downloaded for free from Twinkl’s online educational platform – www.twinkl.co.uk/thenumbersgame