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Never too young for maths

Feb 11 2013 14:32
Philippa Gregory*

WE HAVE all read and heard of the problems South Africa is facing regarding mathematics, science and English and they are concerning to say the least.

Maths in particular is a fundamental subject for accountancy, science professions, as well as most technical professions to name but a few. The solutions to our results seem to be few and lacking feasibility at best.

Out of the need to improve the mathematics results of our country’s youth, we’ve developed a programme that targets children even before they embark on their formal mathematics education in primary school.

We feel that mathematics is not introduced early enough into children’s lives, nor is it done in a way that encourages children to see it as a part of their every day existence.

We’ve realised that across the school spectrum, children are seeing maths as a separate entity - a school subject which is foreign and frightening. We therefore believe firmly that children need to live maths from very early on so as not to be apprehensive around a subject that has no doubt caused them and their parents many parents’ sleepless nights.

Against this backdrop and equipped with a BA degree  and prior work at a Mathematics Centre in Bryanston teaching primary school maths, we teamed up with experienced teacher Anne Youell, to develop the Minimatics programme.

Anne is a South African teacher who has over 30 years of teaching experience.

We initially started the programme out of a garage as a mom and child extra-mural, but quickly saw the benefits of approaching nursery schools. The reality is that so many parents work full day and children spend long hours at school.

To involve the parents, we e-mail a lesson outline after every class so that the parents can engage with their children, know what we've been getting up to in class, as well as reinforce what we are teaching at home.

We’ve approached school principals as well, some have approached us... and slowly but surely the name is spreading.

We took the Minimatics programme to market as a company in 2010. We now employ student teachers that understand the subject and have the know-how to work with children.

The company is still young, and we are in pre-primary schools in the northern suburbs of Johannesburg.

My biggest dream is for Minimatics to reach the children whose parents cannot afford it. It would be amazing if corporates would take on a sponsorship of a school as part of their CSI programme, a very sustainable and feasible option for them.

Expansion to other parts of the country is also on the agenda and we are exploring the franchise option.

The Minimatics programme is aimed at helping pre-primary children become familiar with numeracy, shapes, measurement and patterns which are around them in their homes and the environment.

With the programme we aim to give the children confidence from an early age and assist them with the necessary skills to succeed in primary and high school maths.

Their enjoyment through PLAY is of paramount importance to us.

We feel that if children have a solid initial mathematics experience, it will lay the foundation for a confident child who is capable of tackling this subject.

We would like to share with you a recent quote from a principal of a school in which Minimatics have been introduced:

 “As a former teacher I can tell you that this programme resonates with me because it is the correct way to teach pre-schoolers and at the same time build confidence and skill. Another way to see it is ‘move to learn’”.   

For more visit

* Philippa Gregory is the co-founder and now sole owner of Minimatics.

*Share your experience of setting up your own business, or simply ask a question. Our business panel can put you on the right path. 

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