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?

Growlithe Tue 14-May-13 18:30:17

Our Infant School have a 'Maths Library'. This sits alongside the reading library, so that when the child changes their library book (shared reader not reading practice book), they also get a maths board game to play. This is a laminated sheet with a game suitable for their age and ability.

The teacher that set this up is a maths consultant for the LEA, so I think we have been quite lucky that great importance has been placed on Maths in the school. She runs workshops for Year 1 parents which I haven't attended yet as DD is in Reception, but I think they show the kind of vocabulary they are using for Maths at school, and some of the techniques being taught.

Really, though, I think a child starting out at school needs more of a push for reading, since that is entirely a new skill to them. They have (mostly) been read to before school, whereas they are learning maths from the minute you sing '2 little dickie birds' to tem as babies.

My school did do a maths evening. It was really useful because the methods used in early primary differ so much from years ago. They explained the use of number lines and partitioning for addition and subtraction, both pre-column methods, and the grid method of multiplication, a pre-long multiplication method. Chunking is used for division. None of these methods were used when I was at school.

The methods seem long winded but they are breaking down the shorter methods (like column addition and subtraction, long multiplication and division) and giving the DC the understanding of how and why the shorter methods work, rather than just saying, 'use column addition, do it like this because I say so.'

pointythings Tue 14-May-13 18:41:44

DD1's previous school (middle school) held a maths workshop for parents when she was in Yr6, and DD2's school runs numeracy groups for parents so they can come in and find out what the DCs are working on. SO it does happen, but it should happen more often.

I was bad at maths at school in the sense that I failed my (Dutch) A-level, but have got much better in the years since - I'm confident that I can support the DDs through GCSEs quite easily and be able to help them access appropriate resources if they should choose to take Maths at A-level. I actually like maths a lot these days, and working in health research I'm pretty good at statistics.

mrz Tue 14-May-13 18:42:34

I don't think they don't care about maths but they may feel more confident supporting reading than maths.

sittinginthesun Tue 14-May-13 18:57:17

We have maths workshops for maths.

In reception, the children had little maths challenges (they took one out of the box and swapped it when it was done). Things like, working out how the house numbers worked in your road. Counting how many different colour cars you saw on the way to school.

Mind you, my dcs are into maths - my youngest in particular. As preschoolers they would ask to play a board game as often as they asked for a story. I think board games are the equivalent of bedtimes stories so far as maths goes.

MissBetseyTrotwood Tue 14-May-13 19:44:03

My DSs love Reading Eggs.

Just saw they've started 'Maths Seeds' now.

TeenAndTween Tue 14-May-13 20:33:33

I'm back.
Someone above wrote to understand Homeopathy you have to understand numbers. I'm not sure I follow ???

OK, that comment was a bit tongue in cheek.
I guess what I really meant was
to understand what a load of rubbish homeopathy is, it is helpful to understand concepts such as placebo effect, regression to the mean etc for which an understanding of probability / statistics is useful

I really like Growlithe's comment about a maths library. Just think, if children were coming home with simple games and a 'maths record' even parents who aren't that confident with harder maths would maybe find time to have a go and then get their child to do mental maths etc.

mrz - I agree people are more confident supporting their child in reading. But isn't that partly because the expectations set up by schools are much clearer for reading than for maths?
I would have done more with my DD during infants if only I had known what they were doing at school that week, and/or what types of things they wanted me to focus on.

AlvinHallsGroupie Tue 14-May-13 20:40:41

Erm that was me !
agree that its rubbish though.
My DC had maths sheets every week alongside reading books.

fuzzpig Tue 14-May-13 22:09:02

Maths library sounds great!

I have had to stop my degree due to health, but had I carried on, being a primary teacher and then something like a 'maths consultant' as Growlithe mentioned would have pretty much been my dream job.

fengirl1 Tue 14-May-13 22:20:32

Interesting.... <rubs chin thoughtfully> Just looking through the few posts so far, it seems people feel very strongly about maths. It's the only 'academic' subject I've come across where parents feel able to say 'well I was never any good at it either!' I don't have the statistics to back it up, but I suspect many primary school teachers feel less secure in explaining some maths concepts than they do in other areas... Certainly there are a lot of people out there who don't really understand how basic maths works, but have learnt the 'recipe' or method - teachers definitely wouldn't think it was ok for children to learn to read in this way. <wanders off to ponder some more.....>

learnandsay Tue 14-May-13 22:31:17

No, there are lots of weird and wonderful ways of learning (or failing to learn) to read. Lots of people are happy to admit they know nothing of history, art, chemistry, computing you name it (Americans, geography, what's geography) It seems to me that literacy is one of the few subjects that everybody in the Western world agrees that it's embarrassing to admit no knowledge of.

learnandsay Tue 14-May-13 22:40:34

I don't know about everybody else, but the Sam Cooke song Wonderful World, where he admits to being a complete high school failure in a litany of subjects www.youtube.com/watch?v=xE6UrZMb71o would not be charming, but would be shameful if one of the lines was

donno how to read a reading book.

I think one can only take ignorance so far...

TheOriginalSteamingNit Tue 14-May-13 22:43:31

Ah, but the angst about secondaries is often couched in terms of maths. Oooh the top set maths group won't do maths GCSE at 13 in a comprehensive etc. There's a lot less fretting about English after primary.

TheBuskersDog Tue 14-May-13 22:53:07

I work in year 3, we send home maths homework every week, it will usually consolidate what the children have been working on that week. The children will know any method required, parents will only really be expected to help if the homework is e.g. a game which involves 2 players. The problem is that some parents try to 'teach' their children different methods and end up confusing the child.

Our children all have termly targets which they know and which are also sent home,could be to learn certain times tables or doubles/halves up to 10/20/50 or number bonds for example.

Ilikethebreeze Tue 14-May-13 22:53:35

Maths has changed, reading hasnt.
I love maths, but even I gave up trying to teach mine long division, as they were taught differently.
Now multiplication has changed, but is changing again.

TheOriginalSteamingNit Tue 14-May-13 22:55:03

My girls faces when I try to do long division..... confused

Ilikethebreeze Tue 14-May-13 23:04:22


piprabbit Tue 14-May-13 23:17:26

With reading, I help my children read their books in a vaguely phonics way which would probably have some people turning in their graves and I provide them with lots of genuinely enjoyable books to read and share at home. I feel confident in what I am doing.

When maths homework comes home, there is never any information for parents on the techniques that their children are meant to be using to complete the homework. I can do the homework. I can teach my children how to do the homework using the concepts and ideas that I've been using all my life but I am not confident that I am using the right techniques.

What I have come to realise over the last couple of years is that homework at my DCs school does not seem to be marked, nor do they get any feedback on how they have done. So, I now feel free to help them in anyway I please because the homework is clearly of no value to the school, but I can choose to make the experience of doing the homework a hopefully fun and positive learning experience. Realising that the school isn't judging DD for working the 'wrong' way when I've been helping her, is very liberating.

learnandsay Tue 14-May-13 23:36:41

My children are too young for them to have encountered conflicts in maths methodology. But if I show my daughters something which is likely to have lots of methods I'll try and make sure I can do it it more than one way at the time. With a bit of luck it'll show them that there are lots of ways to reach the "right" answer.

Ilikethebreeze Tue 14-May-13 23:44:36

That is likely to confuse them learnandsay. The general rule of thumb used to be, I expect it still is, that it is best to help them in exactly the way that they are taught at school.

Tiggles Wed 15-May-13 10:19:29

I am as interested in my DSs maths development as I am their reading/writing development, but I don't tend to post about either on here, as I don't see the need to ask how to extend them further in either subject, they are chugging zooming along at their own speeds, learning loads and I feel competent to help them with out asking for help. The school is doing a good job in teaching them at their appropriate levels and I just back that up with the mental arithmetic questions, or listening to them read.

crazeelaydee Wed 15-May-13 10:32:34

IME Pressure only ever seems to be put on Literacy! It's all about the writing, and the reading has a large part to play in the writing. Every time I have spoken to my Ds's CT's through the years Ds's literacy has always been the 'be all and end all', the fact that he was were he should be for maths or even when he was way below average this was always swept under the carpet.

iseenodust Wed 15-May-13 10:36:19

DS has been at two state primaries. Both have held numeracy for parents sessions to explain 'new fangled approaches'.

Our HT reiterates reading, telling the time and times tables as something parents can help with at home every single term.

DS is in yr4 and homework tends to alternate between numeracy and literacy, usually worksheets. A maths game is probably homework once a month. The last one was aimed at understanding weights eg. 1/4 kg is less / more than 200g. Jolly useful for food shopping.

MrsMelons Wed 15-May-13 12:50:54

I think the emphasis is on reading etc at a young age as without being able to read, everything else is very difficult. Also, the children come home with a reading book every day. As they go through the years I think this emphasis changes.

I love Maths so I do try to encourage the DCs with it but they would rather read to me each night than do maths questions.

I don't believe Maths is secondary to literacy at the DCs school and I think as many people I know struggle with English as much as basic Maths.

TeenAndTween Wed 15-May-13 13:11:06

I do accept that literacy is the gateway to other subjects.
My elder DD (y9) cannot always show off her knowledge well for subjects such as history as she struggles to add detail in her writing, and order her thoughts well. This is an ongoing project for her/us.
So literacy affects every academic subject at secondary, whereas maths really only impacts maths, science and sometimes geography.

However, I still feel uneasy that at primary we have reading records all the way through, which both parents/child and school are expected to look use, and yet nothing nearly so regular/structured for maths, (except maybe times tables in y3/4).

Join the discussion

Join the discussion

Registering is free, easy, and means you can join in the discussion, get discounts, win prizes and lots more.

Register now