VIDEO: Success of Tom’s Numenko game is adding up

It may have been World Maths Day last Wednesday but it’s fair to say most people didn’t celebrate the occasion.

Many of us find mathematics difficult and tend to cringe away from the subject – and it seems this negative attitude is affecting our children too, with the UK standing 26th in the world maths results table.

What can be done and can parents make a difference? One Hockliffe man man has a formula and his success is multiplying.

Many parents get worried and frustrated when their children struggle with mathematics. One enterprising dad turned this frustration into inspiration, designing a Scrabble-like game to encourage his daughter to enjoy maths more.

And now, 30 years on, Tom Lennett, of Woburn Road, has adapted this game for his young grandchildren and watched proudly as his innovative invention has spread into schools and homes across the world.

From 70-year-old dad Tom’s kitchen table, Numenko is now used in more than 400 UK schools and stocked in many European countries and the US where it is being snapped up by teachers and parents looking to improve children’s grasp of basic maths.

“Levels of achievement in maths in the UK have dropped,” said Tom. “In 2012, we were rated 26th in the world. Basic numeracy is essential and tens of thousands of children leave primary school with the mathematical ability of a seven-year-old. I am on a one-man mission to help change that.”

It certainly worked for Tom’s daughter Stephanie who struggled with maths at school but, with her dad’s help and lots of Numenko, went on to join the accounts department of a national company.

The game Tom designed strengthens the foundations of all mathematics: arithmetic.

“It is this area where parents can help their children the most,” said Tom. “The parent is as well qualified as a teacher in basic arithmetic plus they have a real interest in seeing their child excel. They can also work with their child on a one-to-one basis where a teacher might have as many as 30 children to deal with.”

The premise of Numenko is simple: players have wooden tiles, each featuring a number, a mathematical symbol (plus, minus, multiply or divide) or a freechoice symbol which can substitute for any number or symbol. Each player uses their turn to make a successful sum. Children can play on their own or against their parents or siblings and can play in the classroom and then again at home.

The new version of the game, developed by Tom for his grandchildren, is in a handy bag and is available from for £9.95.

“I would love to see children – and adults – increase their confidence with arithmetic and learn to love maths again,” said Tom. “I created this game for my family but I am hoping it can help thousands of other families and help to create a good foundation for improving maths in the UK.”