December 5, 2023

Do your students claim to hate maths? Is it peer pressure, are they genuinely struggling or are they just frightened of it? Perhaps it is just that numbers, formulas and mathematical concepts are far less exciting than gory history lessons, science experiments or the drama of, well, drama.

Meanwhile, many of us bemoan screens and the amount of time spent playing online games such as Minecraft, Roblox and Fortnite. But – hear me out – gaming knows how to get their attention! It challenges them to try to figure things out. Kids love it and are willing to spend hours at a time on it.

That is why the gamification of Maths could be the solution to our problem today.

Gamification is the middle ground between gaming and learning. The use of this technique has enabled so many kids worldwide to develop better maths skills.

It helps to make learning maths fun and interactive. It allows students to see real-world situations and enhances the learning experience.

So how exactly can gamification make learning Maths fun?

Students love gaming already

It’s an inescapable fact that games are FUN. Kids love to play games!

Getting students to learn and practice Maths is usually difficult – including games is sure to have them entertained. Most of the time when we teach, we ask the kids to come into our world to learn and they get confused or bored. Going into theirs makes learning more exciting.

Learning on platforms they already adore to play on is awesome, as it takes away the dull look of the subject. When kids play games they feel comfortable and in control, which is a better environment in which to learn.

So, combining gaming and learning helps reduce their fear and dislike of the subject. Simple!

Educational games are a great way to get your “I hate maths” kids to love it.

Making learning a habit

If you’re struggling to get your children to study regularly, gamification can help. They’ll quickly form a habit of playing games because they find it enjoyable, and when it’s channelled into something productive, this is so worthwhile.

When maths becomes a challenge they want to beat, most students push themselves to play / practice it.

Not only does this help to improve maths skills, it also improves their fine motor skills. In a study involving a group of surgeons, researchers found that those who played video games were faster at performing the advanced procedure and made 37% fewer mistakes than those who didn’t.

Taking the anxiety out of maths

Lots of kids suffer from maths anxiety, they find it difficult and stressful. This usually causes feelings of apprehension when faced with a maths problem. Deep down they feel they aren’t any good at it, which is likely false.

Gamification helps to ease the stress and make them comfortable practising.

It shifts their focus from it being a maths problem to a problem they can have fun solving. So, they can play and learn for a long time without feeling anxious.

An example of a game like this is BrainySpinach Math. It teaches kids aged 7-11 maths through fun and innovative Roblox games so that they no longer fear maths and are prepared for STEM vocations.

Virtual rewards motivate them

Another thing that makes gamification work is that it encourages the small wins, which in turn motivates students. Games give simple prizes, usually when a goal is achieved. It could be a virtual badge, unlockable / upgradable items, or even an in-game currency.

And, as we already know, children learn better when they have targets and achievements to aim for.

Most of the time, a big reward isn’t needed. Sometimes they’d just like recognition from you for their efforts and, if it is achievable, even playing alongside a student or students can be rewarding as they show off what they’ve unlocked!

Improves neuroplasticity

Rote memorization and repetitive exercises have had a bad reputation in recent years, but new discoveries in the neurological sciences show that a certain amount of repetitive exercise promotes neuroplasticity, the brain’s ability to learn and retain new information.

Regular practice and application are key as, when you practise applying concepts, neural connections are strengthened. The more often your students practice a physical action or mathematical concept, the easier it becomes.

Gaming really is a workout for your kid disguised as fun and studies have shown that playing video games regularly really does improve neuroplasticity.

Bottom Line

Gamification offers a great, alternative way of learning maths and can be used alongside traditional teaching methods or even instead of them in some instances. It’s obvious that we all want the best for our students and to help them gain qualifications and go on to fulfilling careers. So, for your child to enjoy their journey towards those things, it helps immensely if it is also fun. And, therefore, gamification could definitely be the way to go.


Jon Goga is a math tutor and founder of BrainySpinach Math, on a mission to help inspire children everywhere to catch up with their learning today so they succeed tomorrow.

You might also like: Should institutions get on board with gamification in 2022?


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