Our 2 year Research that led to PLYTIME Learning
The idea for PLYTIME started when parents and schools continued to ask us to play our PLYT games with their children to help them with maths.
We’d originally created PLYT to help our own children with maths, but it worked so well that we ended up producing it to make it available to help more children with maths. Independent researchers proved that 7-13 year olds improved by 30% after playing for just 6 weeks.
Whilst parents knew the games worked, they often didn’t have the time to play board games with their children or they weren’t confident with numbers themselves. And whilst we’d sold many games into schools, they were frequently only used for wet break times, as this was the only opportunity schools had spare time to play. We knew that the games could be used much more effectively and make a real difference to children, so in 2018, we started our primary maths trial.
We combined playing our games with individual tutoring to see how it could help children to improve.
We created over 30 different number games to play with our PLYT Game platforms and over the next 2½ years, until the start of the Covid lockdown, we tutored over 200 children, both at home and in schools in small group sessions.
It didn’t take long for us to realise that some games worked better than others. Engagement was far higher with competitive, multiplayer games and especially where each child had an equal chance of winning – so it wasn’t always the best at maths who won but the child who played at their best. As children became engrossed in the games, they forgot they were learning! On many occasions, we even struggled to get them to leave the sessions as they wanted to carry on playing.
However, it wasn’t just the playing that helped – it had to be combined with support. It’s essential that children understand the “why” and the “how” in order to be able to answer questions. We found that where children were encouraged to push themselves out of their comfort zone and challenge themselves a little bit harder – with support, (and an incentive to score more points) even bigger improvements were seen. There was no doubt that tutoring support worked best on a 1-to-1 basis when it was tailored to each individual child.
We also confirmed something that every parent already knows – children have a very limited attention span, often drifting off towards the goldfish or a pencil topper after about 15 minutes. If we wanted children to focus intently and learn from what they were doing, concentration was absolutely key and there was no doubt that shorter bursts were more effective.
By combining tutoring with games, we measured an average improvement over those 200 students that was much better than the EEF’s (Educational Endowment Fund) benchmark studies into tutoring alone. A couple of our PLYTIME sessions were also attended by National Numeracy who really liked what they saw and thought it was a great concept – they could see how it was really helping to improve maths in an engaging way.
Over the trial it was heart-warming to see children, who were scared of numbers when they started with us, grow in confidence and really start to enjoy maths. In fact, from a negative mindset of hating maths, many went on to say that maths was their favourite subject – quite a transformation. We had many parents let us know that their child who had previously been struggling at school was now back on target, had been moved up to a higher level or passed an exam.
We knew that we could make a real difference to children and that encouraged us to create PLYTIME Learning. Moving online enables us to put all our research into use and to create a much more effective online learning solution and in doing so, help more children to be their best.
We launched the site in October 2021.
The boys have thoroughly enjoyed PLYTIME and it has made a huge difference to their confidence in maths. I really hope taking it on line is a huge success. Please let us know once it is up and running