Making maths fun: Interview with creator of Sum Fun, David Bullen

September 19, 2019

OK, we know that not everyone loves maths like we do. David Bullen, creator of the educational maths game Sum Fun, shares our enthusiasm and explains how we can all inspire the next generation to enjoy numbers.

The maths game: Sum Fun

How can maths be made fun?

As a parent, it could be that you never enjoyed maths yourself. As a direct consequence, it’s, therefore, more likely you will have never had the chance to see that maths can be fun. If you’ve felt like this, then don’t worry; it’s never too late to start enjoying maths!

What’s more important now than ever is that you don’t let any potential lack of enthusiasm you may have previously had for the subject be passed down to your children.

My golden rules to make maths more fun for kids are:

  1. Be enthusiastic about maths and numbers in the first place!
  2. Make maths come alive by using it in everyday situations.
  3. Make maths fun by playing games and setting challenges.

We can do this quite easily as so much of our daily lives are entrenched in maths. Kids love hands-on activities and competition, so when you are next out, why not set them a number related challenge? There is nothing they like better than competing against a parent or sibling!

Whether this be counting the number of red cars you’ve seen on a journey; estimating the number of acorns that have fallen from an oak tree; asking them how tall they think the tree is; asking them how many minutes do they think it will take to get home… I think you get the idea! Just use your imagination to set maths and number related challenges and watch their maths skills develop.

Why is maths magical?

The magic of maths is that it’s everywhere, but it’s only when you stop and think about it that most people actually realise it! If anything, most of the time it’s just taken for granted. Just stop for one second whilst you are reading this blog and take a look around to see how immersed you are…

What were you able to see that was maths or number related? You see what I mean… can you imagine what our world would be like without maths? How would you know what date it was? How would you know what time to take the children to school? How would you know what speed you were going on the school run?

At a deeper level, maths has allowed us to develop as a society and make extraordinary technological advances. Maths has already allowed us to put a man on the moon and with planned trips to Mars, it’s fair to say that maths is even at the forefront when it comes to our potential survival as a human race. Ultimately, what could be more important and magical than that?!

How did you get inspired to create Sum Fun?

The inspiration to create Sum Fun was drawn from a combination of factors really. Without a doubt, my initial love of maths and numbers had something to do with it. This coupled with my enthusiasm to play games and a passion to educate my own children in both a fun and engaging way also contributed greatly.

Furthermore, I had always been struck at just how many people I had met over the years who made it clear they either hated maths or indeed anything to do with numbers! I would even go as far as to say that for many people, maths and numbers create fear, and can even lead to what I would call “math anxiety”. I’m fortunate in that I have always enjoyed maths so I wondered if it would be possible to help others get over their fear of maths.

So, the question is where does this maths anxiety stem from in the first place?

Well, research has shown that early experiences with maths have long-lasting outcomes in terms of educational achievement and life chances. I am therefore utterly convinced that the best way to get rid of this fear is to ensure kids are introduced to maths and numbers from a very early age. It is also very important to demonstrate that maths can be fun! We can do this by letting our kids do what they do best; through the medium of play, we can get our kids playing maths and number games, having fun and educating themselves in the process!

Hence the Sum Fun was born.

What made you get involved with the Explore Learning Mathematicians’ Awards?

This year will be the fourth year Sum Fun has been supporting the Explore Learning Mathematicians’ Awards. This really is such a fantastic competition and it’s been an absolute pleasure to be given the opportunity to be a part of it.

Last year I attended a regional final and it was simply brilliant to see so many children engaged and excited by maths. The tasks set are quite different from the sorts of activities you might do at school, so this only adds to the fun! I like that as well as being judged on your individual problem-solving skills you will also be assessed for how well you work as a team – another very important life skill.

It’s clear to see why Explore Learning’s maths and English tuition centres are award-winning. Explore resonates with kids because they understand the importance of getting to know every child and finding out what makes them tick. This is so important when educating kids as they do learn things in different ways. Everybody I have ever met at Explore is always so enthusiastic too! This is infectious and allows kids to discover the magic of learning. Every day we are all on a learning journey… it’s important to recognise this, so let’s embrace it and let all of our minds “Explore”!

If you would like more information about Sum Fun or like to purchase the game then please visit our website.

9 out of 10 parents told us they would like their child to be more confident with their maths skills. Help your child discover the magic of maths today with our free challenges and activities!


Discover more interesting posts from our blog

How to avoid exam stress: Strategies & tips

May 11, 2017

Test season is in full swing and children across the UK may be experiencing all of the nerves, worry and stress that can come with sitting exams. We’ve got some useful...

Read this post

Explore's tutors share their top tips for transitioning back to school

August 27, 2020

Our Explore tutors are here to share their top tips for transitioning back to school. Things might look a little different this year but our tutors are still here to...

Read this post