If mumsnet Mums cared as much about maths as they do about reading ...

(115 Posts)
TeenAndTween Tue 14-May-13 12:43:50

...would there be much high levels of numeracy in this country?

There are so many threads on here about reading and reading levels, and yet so very few about maths, apart from the occasional one concerning times tables.

Why is this?

Do parents just not care about maths, think it is less important? Or is it because schools don't send colour coded maths to do at home so parents don't get competitive about it?

Why is it still socially acceptable for otherwise intelligent people to say they're not much good at maths when they would never dream about saying that about reading?

MorrisZapp Tue 14-May-13 12:45:39

Because you don't communicate in numbers, you use words.

That's why.

Periwinkle007 Tue 14-May-13 12:51:09

I am not entirely sure my daughter DOES any maths based on what she tells me.... she only talks about reading and writing.

redskyatnight Tue 14-May-13 12:54:42

I've often wondered the same thing myself.

Is because most people feel happy to read but not necessarily to "teach" (which is what it would be) a subject?

I'm good at maths, but I'm very wary of helping my DC at home- especially since I always seem to confuse them by using different methods to school ones.
I'd also never dream of teaching them (say) geography in anything other than a conversational way.

Also, I guess reading is a building block to pretty much anything (including using maths in any sort of applied way), so maybe it is just more important?

TeenAndTween Tue 14-May-13 12:55:34

BUT
- to look after your finances you need numbers
- to understand the MMR debate you need to understand numbers
- to understand homeopathy you need to understand numbers
- to understand politics you need to understand numbers
- to understand science and implications of e.g. climate change you need to undertsand numbers.

People who can read well but don't understand numbers cannot understand whether much of what they are reading that is important is true, or spin, or relevant etc.

To understand homeopathy, you need to be able to read fairy stories wink

But, yes, I agree with you. Numerical literacy is poor in this country, and it is SO important.

yetanotherworry Tue 14-May-13 13:00:52

Its because we have nothing to compare. I know exactly what book band dd is on but all I know about maths is which table she is on.

Periwinkle007 Tue 14-May-13 13:01:14

I think it is possibly because for the first couple of years of school it is the only thing sent home.

I did maths at A-level and my daughters are seemingly quite confident with numbers as much as you would expect at their age but they aren't as interested in it as they are in reading a story.

I agree, maths is a huge part of day to day life and incredibly important. you need both maths and english for so many things.

interestingly the subject I feel most confident with telling my children about IS geography but it is one of my favourite subjects and always has been, geography/geology/natural history will always be easier to me than most other subjects.

I don't think it's so much that mums dont care, more that they don't feel confident to get involved, because their own numeracy isn't that great, or they don't understand the methods currently used.

Few parents are illiterate, so they are mostly fine at doing the reading practice with their child. But many have no understanding of "chunking" or "number bonds" or anything else about how it is taught in schools these days.

Personally I'm pretty numerate, but I couldn't help DS much with his school maths homework except by asking him to explain what the teacher had told him - usually by the time he'd gone over it with me he could see where he was going wrong. But the methods had nothing to do with how I "see" numbers.

TeenAndTween Tue 14-May-13 13:09:58

Is it also because schools don't provide enough info to parents on what they could do at home? And when they do send mtahs info home it is all a bit generalised and not tailored for the level the child is on?

So when they send a book home, they are effectively saying 'this book is a bit challenging for your child but they should be able to read it'. But because they don't send home info on e.g. 'please practice mental adding and subtrating single digit numbers' one week, and then 3 weeks later 'now go up to 20' etc parents literally don't know what is expected so do nothing by default?

DorisShutt Tue 14-May-13 13:10:05

My DS isn't at school yet so I may not be totally qualified to answer, but it seems (from what I have seen family go through) that it may be partly to do with the changing methods used to teach now, compared with when I was at school.

Reading is mainly the same stuff, but now we have number chunking and various other things that are different to the way I was taught and understand.

Periwinkle007 Tue 14-May-13 13:12:19

number chunking? what is number chunking?

learnandsay Tue 14-May-13 13:16:45

Our school did a literacy event for parents. But when asked for a numeracy event the head laughed and said you don't need one because you can all count.

TheSmallPrint Tue 14-May-13 13:22:36

I do maths and reading with my children. I suspect it's because people are far more confident with reading than numeracy generally - or at least they believe they are and also because they 'do' maths differently than when we were at school, tis very odd but I am sure there are very good reasons!

TheSmallPrint Tue 14-May-13 13:23:15

I agree though that the schools seem to encourage the reading at home but nothing else as per your last comment.

MadBusLady Tue 14-May-13 13:23:31

"BUT
- to look after your finances you need numbers
- to understand the MMR debate you need to understand numbers
- to understand homeopathy you need to understand numbers
- to understand politics you need to understand numbers
- to understand science and implications of e.g. climate change you need to undertsand numbers."

No, not really. I worked in tax accountancy for a while and I was crap at maths at school. The kind of maths you need to deal with finances is really very basic.

On MMR and other sciences debates I outsource my thinking to people I trust, which is I'm afraid what absolutely everyone does with things they don't understand, whether they admit it or not. Otherwise we'd all have to acquire all of human knowledge before we made any decisions at all.

To understand politics (which I mostly do, and people have outsourced some of their thinking to me in the past) you need to understand (a) bullshit and (b) economics, which isn't the same thing as maths at all.

MadBusLady Tue 14-May-13 13:24:34

Saying all that, I'd certainly like to be confident enough to teach numeracy if I had DC, I imagine others would too. Do you have any suggestions on how to approach it?

MadBusLady Tue 14-May-13 13:26:58

Actually thinking about the politics one, you need to understand how parliament works, how the legislative process works, how think tanks and lobby groups work and what Westminster culture is like far, far more than you need to understand economics. I see a lot of discussions of politics between very intelligent people founder for lack of this knowledge.

DSs school certainly never attempted to explain their maths methods to us parents. We got an introductory meeting on reading practice and how they could/should practice their spellings, but that was it. Perhaps they think it would take too long to explain the methods to parents, specially because they will all be reaching that stage at different times?

littleducks Tue 14-May-13 13:31:56

I think the reason I was so concerned about reading was that to me it becomes a skill to access the rest of the curriculum. Ds is in reception he is learning to read (and is apparently learning through play). DD is in yr 2, she has almost finished the scheme and reads books of her own choosing for pleasure at home. She is now reading to learn, both in school in a formal way and all about the world stuff from the books she reads at home.

HesterShaw Tue 14-May-13 13:33:06

This does frustrate me about maths, especially amongst grown, otherwise intelligent adults. The media doesn't help - whenever maths is mentioned on, for example, a TV show, the presenter boasts about how maths is a total MYSTERY to him/her, and that anyone who is good at maths must be a bit bloody brainy. Where did this come from? People wouldn't laugh and joke about being awful at reading and writing.

I find being numerate helps my everyday life enormously.

haggisaggis Tue 14-May-13 13:33:17

Our school will not send home maths homework in case teh parents teack kids the wrong methods. I do agree gthey do not put teh same ephasis on maths. dd is dyslexic and dyscalculic. They have put alot of effort into gettting her reading up to a good level. Maths - not so much. (obviously we work at home too but need school to back this up)

VenusRising Tue 14-May-13 13:33:24

I agree the level of competence of numeracy is low.
No journalist I've ever read seems to have a good handle on statistics - but maybe accuracy is not what the press is there for nowadays.

I'm not in the UK and have to say that the literacy levels / colour coded books aren't taught here in Ireland.

Children are regularly tested on maths though, from 4 years, and on basic arithmetic to concepts.

I would say that early childhood literacy is a particularly UK, or even dare I say, mumsnet obsession grin, whereas children where I'm from only start to read when they're seven, and don't have the colour coded system, but they do a LOT of conceptual maths play before that.

Smartieaddict Tue 14-May-13 13:35:32

This isn't something I'd thought about before, but now you mention it there just doesn't seem to be the emphasis on maths that there is on reading, in Reception at least.

I have a DS in Reception. I can tell you exactly what he has learned as far as reading and writing is concerned. He has a book, which is filled in by the school with every new sound he learns, and a reading record, filled in by us at home, and the school. We have been encouraged by the school, to read with him every day, and there have been phonics workshops, so the parents understand how the children are learning.

I have absolutely no idea what maths he does, or how it is taught. He was given a password for the Mathletics website when he started school, and he goes on that once a week or so at home, but that is it really. I am sure they are learning some maths at school, but it certainly seems to take second place to literacy, and no home input seems to be required.

Are there maths levels comparable to the reading levels you hear so much about?

We are using Collins mental maths to support Y1 DS1 at home. Agree that teaching methods seem to have changed and parents can cause more confusion than they solve, but then I never learned to read with phonics.

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