Empowering parents to support their children's maths understanding

This project aimed to develop methods for empowering parents to reflect upon and share their uses of mathematics in everyday life, so they can support their children's mathematics learning.

Findings:
  • There is great potential in children's home and family life for activity to support children's mathematics learning. An understanding of ways in which mathematics is used out-of-school can help improve children's attitudes towards mathematics and to help children understand the value and relevance of mathematics in a variety of contexts.
  • Parents and the wider family should be encouraged to explore the mathematics that is involved in family life and activity, and to share this mathematics with children. Children need regular support in order to recognise the mathematics in the world around them, and parents are often the best people to provide this support.
  • Schools should be encouraged to engage with parents in ways that value parents' existing knowledge and skills. An emphasis on classroom mathematics content and methods can discourage parents from supporting children's mathematics learning.
  • Parents do not need extensive mathematical knowledge to support their children's learning. Discussion of interesting questions, and talk about ways that mathematics can help us with everyday activity, can be more useful than knowing a correct procedure or answer.
  • The project was based in primary schools in Bristol, and involved parents of children in Year 3 and 4. It included an investigation of parents' motivations and attitudes towards their children's mathematics learning, and of their own uses of mathematics. This was followed by workshops designed to empower parents to reflect upon and share their knowledge relating to mathematics with their children.
Resources for schools and families:

Resources are available to allow teachers to organise similar workshops for parents in their own schools. These include a teachers' guide, leaflets for parents, and workshop plans. These are all available online via the Everyday Maths project website.