Parents need more help with maths

Research shows that parents are an important factor in whether children succeed, particularly in the early years, when their influence outweighs that of schools. But new teaching methods can be daunting for parents and they need more help to understand them, the BBC reports.

The way children are taught maths has changed, and parents are having to get to grips with concepts and terms like number lines, number grids, chunking and partitioning that have been introduced since their school days. Nick Dowrick, director of Every Child Counts, says it is vital that parents understand the methods that are being used in schools today and runs sessions where parents observe their children taking part in fun games and mind reading tricks in class.

Lynn Churchman, President of the National Association of Mathematics Advisers, has some advice for parents: “When you are parents, as adults you have been doing maths for a long time and you have your own experiences and your own already established knowledge that has been inculcated at an early age – it’s almost instinctive. What you’ve got to do, and this is where it’s hard for parents, is lift yourself out of your own mindset about how you did it and not be worried when your six-year-old can’t instinctively tell you what 17 and six is.”

Schools Minister Nick Gibb prefers the methods that he experienced in his schooldays, and believes that it is not an issue if children do not understand why older methods work. However, Ms Churchman says that children failed to get conceptual understanding with the old methods, but modern maths teaching focuses on the key concepts, and an emphasis on mental methods and strategies, as opposed to recall.

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