I have been teaching for over 35 years. I started designing maths games when I went to Tanzania to teach teachers how to teach maths. I found that maths was taught by rote with lots of chanting of numbers. Children did not understand what they were learning and by the time they were 7, they had decided that they did not like maths and they were bad at it. By the time they were 8, the gap between what they knew and understood and what the syllabus required of them was almost unbridgeable. Good foundations are essential. being Montessori trained, I had plenty of ideas for using concrete resources to make the abstract concept of number understandable and this is how the Early Maths pack came about, except that in Tanzania, we did not have counters - we used the bottle tops from Coca Cola and Sprite bottles!
In the UK, I was working for Adult Education teaching workshops for parents on how they could help their children with maths at school. It was these parents that encouraged me to get my games published and so Janes’s Games was born. I created more and more games as we continued to teach teachers further up schools in Tanzania. Even though I am no longer teaching in Tanzania, once I had caught the bug of creating a game to reinforce a concept, I could not stop creating games. I still teach, so where I find a child is struggling with a concept, I create a game to help. I have also taught workshops for Home-educating parents on how to teach maths. This lead to even more games because they are a creative group who generated lots of ideas.
Though there are plenty of electronic games available to buy or download from the internet, when children play games against a computer, they are not spending quality time with a person and it is less easy to see which areas need more work. Children’s learning is reinforced by talking about it: playing games with children provides a natural opportunity to do this. When I tutor children, I invite the parent to sit in with me so that they understand not only how to play the game, but where the child is in their understanding and how to talk about it so that the child can verbalise the learning.
Alongside designing maths games,, I have been doing private tutoring for many years. This means that I design games for individual children to teach specific concepts. I then refine them and create more advanced versions. If you are interested in tutoring and live in or near Penrith, Cumbria, please email me.
The original four packs of games created in 2011 are still available. These are Fraction Dominoes, Early Maths, Money and Phonics. These are the only ones available in physical form. The Fraction Dominoes and Phonics are also available in a revised and updated form as a download. Games that I have created since 2011 are only available as downloads.
The years in Tanzania lead to my writing teaching manuals for the teaching of mathematics in the first four years of primary school. I also spoke at national conferences organised by the Maths Association of Tanzania. My subject was laying solid mathematical foundations in the early years.
In 2012 my three teachers’ manuals for teaching maths in the in the early part of the Tanzanian system were published.