Q & A

Interview with NCT for their newsletter  


  • What are the advantages of taking your child to classes before they start school?

 Starting before school gives the children a headstart and really helps to give them great foundations so that they start school as confident happy learners. Young children are so receptive and their minds are like sponges and absorb so much. Teaching in a fun way, the children think they are playing and don’t even realise that they are learning.


  • Would my child learn these things at nursery, or through watching Numberjacks on CBeebies?

 At nursery, the children certainly will be learning their numbers but many nursery teachers have told us that they find it difficult to dedicate enough time and attention to teach numbers in a way the children really understand and enjoy. Numberjacks too is a great programme introducing number concepts but it is passive learning. Sumtastics, however, engages the children using a variety of exciting resources where the children actively take part in the learning. It develops curiosity and encourages discovery through lots of different activities and experimenting with the numbers.  


  •   Do you think these clubs are good for children who may be struggling with certain areas of development, such as language or counting skills?

Absolutely. Sumtastics focuses not only on the number sequencing and bonds but also on number language. Every number introduces new words – for example in the story about number 1, we discuss the words unique, only, alone. We act out the stories and children are encouraged to join in with role-plays and to use their imagination. The children also learn a lot of new vocabulary in the songs. Concepts are reinforced and over taught in many different ways so that they never get bored. Sumtastics also helps children struggling with their fine motor skills. We play using unit cubes and stringalongs which the children learn to thread themselves. We do large whole body movements to introduce how to write the numbers before practising to write the numbers on paper.


  • Is there the potential for children to get confused by the different ways of teaching at the clubs, to when they start school?

Sumtastics is highly compatible with the National Numeracy Strategy. Children learn in different styles – be it kinestic, visual or auditory. The success of the Sumtastic method is that it uses all 3 styles. They will grasp the concepts much more quickly so that when they start learning at school, they will have no difficulty when it comes to numbers and progress really well. Many children continue with Sumtastics whilst at school because it compliments and enhances their learning and helps them to succeed.


  • My child seems to be very bright, is it a good idea to stretch him beyond the usual pre-school activities with clubs such as Sumtastics, and language classes?

Because of it’s versatility, Sumtastics enables children to develop at their own pace so for bright children it pushes them on and helps them to do really well in maths lessons at school. Children develop at different speeds and bright children can be bored if they are not challenged appropriately. Sumtastics provides the “just right” challenge and creates success.


  • Meeting other children and developing social skills plays a very important part in children being confident and happy at school, do you think parents recognise this?

I am sure that most parents certainly do realise this but I know myself that fitting in extra activities is sometimes really hard. In our clubs, we are acutely aware of the importance of helping our youngsters to learn social skills such as taking turns, abiding by the rules, being a team player, being kind and considerate to each other and sharing. All these things don’t necessarily come naturally to children and have to be reinforced gently. All our activities encourage and help develop these skills.


  • There’s been a lot in the press recently about Maths; both in terms of how it’s taught in schools and how much children enjoy it, or find it very boring! Do you think Sumtastics will help to instil a love of learning maths?


That’s certainly what we intend. It is alarming how many children in secondary school don’t have a firm grasp of basic mathematical concepts and naturally are afraid of the subject. Our method is highly structured and multisensory. The children really believe they can do maths. Our pre-schoolers learning with Sumtastics get very excited when we arrive and some shout “its the sumtastics lady!” whilst others shout “it’s the fantastic lady”! They are always eager to get stuck in. You can be sure that they will remember so much because they are so involved in their learning. We want children to have a fantastic start, to flourish and have a life-long love of numbers.


  • I’m intrigued, how do you put a taste to a number?!

 Sumtastics is unique because it is completely multisensory. Each number has a colour, a taste, a touch, a song, and a story. It is both visual and tactile. The brain naturally functions by making links. Associating a colour, smell and taste to a number provides the children with extra links to help remember them and of course it is really fun. For example number 1 is red. We make one single strawberry out of red playdough and then smell and taste real strawberries (of course allergy permitting). For number 2, which is orange, we make orange binoculars which we use for our number 2 story about twins on a camping trip and then taste orange juice.


  • I’m interested in finding out more, but not sure I want to commit to a term, can I come along for a trial session?

 Of course, we would love parents to bring their children along to try it out. We are happy to start a club in your area or at your nursery and so please call me to find out more.

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