Teaching maths to children using real money and real-life projects can help them better understand and engage with the subject, according to a new study.
The pilot study aimed to tackle one of the most common complaints about maths classes - that they lack relevance outside school.
"Students expect to be taught information that is meaningful and makes sense to them," said Catherine Attard, associate professor at Western Sydney University in Australia.
"This can present a problem when teaching mathematics, because some content and approaches in school are often radically different to everyday maths students use in real life," said Attard.
"To remedy this, we worked with teachers to provide new and purposeful learning activities and projects based on financial topics such as value for money, profit and loss, loans and credit cards," she said.
The study investigated whether children would be more involved with mathematics if lessons focused on financial literacy through hands-on activities dealing with real money.
Four primary schools from low socio-economic areas in metropolitan and regional Australia took part, with students from Year one to Year six taking part in a range of activities from the Money Smart programme and student designed projects.
Some of the activities involved coin counting games such as Wipe-Out, while others involved organising market stalls, establishing small businesses and fundraising activities to promote and sell products.
Attard said the teachers reported a big change in the student's attitudes and understanding of maths during the activities.
"At the beginning of the project, almost all of the participants had a very narrow view of money, simply knowing basic concepts such the difference between rich and poor and money's importance for food, water and shelter," she said.
"By the end, most of the students were very interested in the topic of money, and were able to link their discussions to their own lives, and understand complex concepts such as value for money, lending, interest rates, and mortgages," Attard added.
"Most importantly, they had fun working on their projects and wanted to learn more, with reports of young students emailing teachers for advice and getting parents involved in their learning," she said.