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Improve Your Adult Numeracy Skills

By: Jeff Durham - Updated: 14 Oct 2012 | comments*Discuss
Adult Numeracy Improving Adult Numeracy

As with literacy, many adults have found, through no fault of their own, that they have reached adulthood with all the responsibilities that brings without having any kind of numeracy skills whatsoever and, just the same as with literacy, knowing the basics is crucial when it comes to understanding things like how to budget, how to make sure you understand the monetary value of something and ensure that you’re not being ‘ripped off’ and how to understand everyday correspondence such as bills, receipts and bank statements.

How Do I Get Started?

In the same way as with literacy skills, many of the same schools, colleges and training providers will run similar courses in basic arithmetic and maths leading to a nationally recognised certificate in Adult Numeracy at Level 1 and 2. Not only will they teach you the basics of understanding numeracy which is fundamentally important for the reasons given above, the more competent you become, the greater the opportunity of finding work where cash handling forms a part of your role such as working as a shop assistant where even though most tills are automated these days, you still have to have a certain understanding in numeracy.

Even in many other jobs and professions, it’s still important to have a basic understanding of numeracy. Courses can be run through one of your local schools, colleges or other training providers as well as several being run online. Your local authority will be able to give you more information and many of these courses are without charge. Alternatively, you can choose to search ‘adult numeracy courses’ online where you’ll be able to enter your postcode or nearest town and find out the courses which are closest to you. You do not need to have any previous qualifications to be enrolled on these courses and you will usually be asked to come in for a basic assessment first of all so you can be placed on an appropriate course which is tailored to suit your needs.

What Do The Courses Entail?

Courses may vary slightly between training providers but most of them will include the following in some shape or form:

  • Working with whole numbers - basic arithmetic, learning how to add, subtract, multiply and divide whole numbers both using a calculator and in working it out in your head and putting it down on paper
  • Fractions, Percentages, Decimals - all of these aspects of numeracy form part of our daily lives such as “50% off” or “3 for the price of 1” offers in shops, for example, so you will learn how to gain an understanding of things such as probability and ratio
  • Common Measures - learning how to use formulas to work out things like area and volume etc which you might need for things like cooking, for example
  • Shape and Space Measurements - working out measurements and angles which are useful for when you might be looking to measure a room in order to go and buy a carpet that will fit it, for example.

Other Ways Of Improving Your Adult Numeracy Skills

There are plenty of online, newspaper and puzzle book resources which will all contain an element of testing your numeracy skills to one degree or another with Sudoku probably being the current most popular example but, unlike with literacy skills, it’s often more difficult to simply pick up numeracy skills just as you go along without having been on some kind of learning course. If you have children of primary school age, people who have struggled with numeracy skills have often pointed to the arithmetic books and tests that their children have brought home as being a very useful method in terms of them grasping the basics of understanding numeracy.

What is certain, however, is that we use numeracy skills every day, often without even realising it. From working out how long it will take from waking up to getting to work in order to set our alarm clocks and work out how long we’ve got to eat breakfast and how long to get washed and dressed to almost instantly and (often subconsciously) assessing whether or not we’ve been given the right change in a shop, basic numeracy skills are something we all need to possess if we’re going to be able to function properly in society.

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