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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?

TeenAndTween Tue 14-May-13 13:40:49

I agree that the maths you need for day-to-day life is very basic. To be honest if someone has a good grasp of primary maths that is probably sufficient.
After all, you almost only need to do percentages (for the sales and interest rates), areas (for painting walls), and ratios (for scaling recipes). Also of course adding (income) and subtractibg (expenditure).

MMR - yes outsource to people you trust, but so many people somehow seemed to trust the wrong person .... perhaps if they had had a better understanding of things they wouldn't have done so.
Politics - yes of course there is loads more to it than basic maths. But there are so many statistics bandied around by parties that if you can't look critically at them it is easy to get swept away by rhetoric.

I haven't really got any answers to my own questions. My DD is in y3 and it is only this year, having received maths homework for the first time, that I have a good understanding of what her teacher thinks she should be able to do.
I know the 'modern methods'. I know number lines, and chunking, and matrix multiplication etc. but what I didn't know was what the school was doing at any time, and therefore what to be reinforcing at home...

VenusRising Tue 14-May-13 13:40:50

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 seriously start to read when they're seven, and we don't have the hoop jumping colour coded system, so no one is marked down, but they do a LOT of conceptual maths and other play before that.

I think it's better, not to concentrate so much on reading, and get hung up on which level the kids are on.
i think it better to develop their brains for conceptual thinking. Reading doesn't take long to learn at seven.

learnandsay Tue 14-May-13 13:42:46

Good point. If there are no levels then how could parents compete on mumsnet about maths even if they wanted to?

OhYouBadBadKitten Tue 14-May-13 13:44:15

I think we really let lots of our children down in this country when it comes to maths. I don't know if its because (generalising wildly) many primary teachers tend to be more on the arts side or because we've got stuck in a rut of not caring enough about it. It's the key to so many subjects in secondary.

Primary kids often miss out on basic number skills - they quite often just dont develop a sense of number and without those basic building stones, the rest of maths becomes increasingly impossible.

learnandsay's headteacher says it all really. Just as most parents can count, so they can read. What a nonsensical argument. Number skills is not counting.

Zipitydooda Tue 14-May-13 14:00:08

The school's focus is all on reading not maths.
My 8yr old got maths homework in Reception; collaborative things to do at home like weigh objects. My 5 yr old gets none and teachers brush over maths when I question it.
My 8 yr old gets a list of spelling to learn each week, why not a list of times tables too?
I know as a parent I can (and do try) to do these things off my own bat but it being given as homework from school is motivating for the children. My 5 yr old is v reluctant to do such tasks and school supporting my activities would be beneficial.

fuzzpig Tue 14-May-13 14:02:06

Reading is necessary to access a lot of other subjects I guess, eg my 5yo can do a lot more mathsy workbook type things because she can read the questions independently, sometimes she chooses non-fiction for her school reading books and this has really increased her interest in science/history because SHE can find out stuff for herself.

I love maths and I agree there is much less focus. We were invited to well-attended phonics sessions at school but despite my suggestion of numeracy sessions (I would like to know more about how they teach it) they haven't happened due to lack of interest.

When DD started the school was appealing for parent volunteers to do reading. I said actually I'd really love to help with numeracy if that's ok, they practically bit my hand off and apparently the teachers were fighting over which class 'got' me grin I ended up doing Numicon activities with a few from each yr1 class who were struggling, it was a great experience.

lynniep Tue 14-May-13 14:22:29

We care about maths. Far more so in fact than literacy - possibly because DS1 school put more emphasis on reading and writing. DH and I both have maths backgrounds - he is now an accountant and I'm in software. I consider it extremely important, and he does extra maths on home as the stuff he brings home from school is very simple.
I think its fair to say thought that the school sneaks in maths when the children don't know about it - DS1 comes home and says he hasn't done any counting, when in fact he may well have done but just wasnt aware that thats what was going on ;)

BabiesAreLikeBuses Tue 14-May-13 14:28:39

Think the drive to get them reading is stronger earlier on. Where i teach (upper ks2) kids are tested half termly in reading, writing and maths so parents can compare levels (if they have nothing better to do!) And it's not true at my school that more staff are arts background - my strengths and interests are maths and science (and i ask help from others to make my displays look more artistic ;-))
I also think there is more uniformity in the way numeracy taught from one school to another because of a lack of book banding!!

TeenAndTween Tue 14-May-13 14:39:58

Do you think the methods issue is about the progression in maths that is required for understanding which just isn't there for reading?

e.g. a child learns to read the word clown: c.l.ow.n using phonics. That is the method taught at 5 and it is still the method taught at 11.

But a child learns to add say 16+5, first by physical objects, then a number line, and then column addition. If a parent attempts to teach column addition before number lines have been understood the child can get the answer but doesn't understand why?

I'm coming round to thinking there should be colour banded prompt sheets for parents saying 'if you want to do maths at home, please consider doing this type of thing ...'. (5-10mins per day). So not homework, but optional, (in the same way that reading at home is optional). Maybe starting at y1. General background maths competency, not paper and pencil strategies. Would that be helpful? Or just yet another way that 'mumsnet' children will get ahead of others?

TeenAndTween Tue 14-May-13 14:43:05

Oh I agree with lynniep, schools do sneak in maths so the children don't notice.
In yR our school counts up packed lunches v school dinners, looks at the difference between them etc. Also throughout infants loads of board games which are just maths in disguise.

meglet Tue 14-May-13 15:06:18

I'm care about how well the DC's do in maths. We practice it at home and I explain all the different ways we use numbers in real life.

MomOfTomStubby Tue 14-May-13 15:44:53

All of use use literacy skills every day of our lives if only to read the instructions on the tin smile

Maths is different. Sure you need to be able to count out coins when shopping but how any of us really use serious maths in our daily lives? Is it therefore that surprising that we don't attach that much importance to math skills?

learnandsay Tue 14-May-13 15:51:49

You don't even need to count out coins when shopping any more. I don't know how useful multiplying mixed fractions, algebra and trigonometry have been for you, but they haven't helped me much lately. I suppose you'd use a bit of geometry if you're a carpet fitter. But I'm not a carpet fitter.

MomOfTomStubby Tue 14-May-13 16:02:40

For tips I always make it 10%. Move decimal place one space over et voila. It got a bit complicated when we went to the USA though. There you are supposed to tip 15% to 17%. 10% of bill, halve it and add it onto the 10% gives you 15%. Easy peasy.

randgirl Tue 14-May-13 16:11:16

Ooh im so glad to read this post as this is something that has been on my mind a little while. Im not in the UK so the schooling is most likely a bit different. But when some family were over recently from the UK they said that the times tables are being brought back into the curriculum again now, as they were not being taught in the schools previously.. Is this true? I cannot comprehend why tables will have been taken out of the curriculum, as imo they are the building blocks of being able to do any maths.

Reading and maths are the two subjects prioritised here. Every day they have reading and maths homework from the very first day of school. Now that ds is in high school they do have homework but not every single day like dd who is still in primary school. Im not so popular at times wink, as an extra mural my dc go to Kumon maths as well twice a week. They do a Kumon book every single day including holidays and weekends....

But, ultimately it is all for a reason. Ds is 100% certain that he will be doing BSc when he goes to university (he is 14 now). Our grades at school do differ from UK's but the year he is 16 he can choose his subjects, BUT if he did not obtain a minimum of 70% in maths and science in the previous year, he is unable to pick those two subjects for the next two years. If he doesnt have maths and science then, he cannot proceed with BSc degree.

If the pupils do not pass Maths or English or Secondary Language, they do not progress to the following year, and have to repeat the year again.

I do understand that reading is crucial, if the reading is poor then the child could misread an exam question etc- so i think they are equally important.

Alibabaandthe40nappies Tue 14-May-13 16:29:13

DS1 is in reception and his numeracy is very good. They do quite a bit of maths with them, lots of which the children don't even realise they are doing.

I do think reading is so important at this stage though, because until children can read then they are totally dependant on an adult helping them with everything. Once they can read then they can begin to learn independently.

Our school send Maths info home at the beginning of each half term with some ideas for doing work at home. Most of it at the moment centers around getting children familiar with the terminology of maths and numeracy, which I imagine helps a great deal when it comes to classroom work.
We also get one maths thing to work on with them after each parents evening, which is targeted to the individual child.

HesterShaw Tue 14-May-13 17:01:58

No don't move the decimal point! It stays where it is - it's the digits which move <pedantic>

Decoy Tue 14-May-13 17:07:11

YANBU, I couldn't agree more.

I'd be pleased if they would include a maths book in the book bag, as well as reading books.

MadBusLady Tue 14-May-13 17:13:03

HesterShaw That could be quite alienating, you know. If someone has been taught a methodology to use basic maths in every day situations that they're confident with, I'd have thought you should applaud it, not insist on conceptual purity.

I only point this out because in a previous post you seemed to be saying how you hated the culture of people boasting about how crap they were at maths. You can't be an evangelist and a pedant, it doesn't work.

AlvinHallsGroupie Tue 14-May-13 17:15:39

to understand Homeopathy you have to understand numbers
im not sure I follow ???

learnandsay Tue 14-May-13 17:26:47

Ratios in homoeopathic remedies, maybe.

sittinginthesun Tue 14-May-13 17:50:34

My experience of my dcs' school is that maths and reading are given equal weight. We have equal amounts of homework for both and, if anything, there is far greater time spent differentiating work for each child in maths.

The only difference is that parents can visibly see the reading schemes in infants, and so compare. By the time they are in juniors, most have finished the schemes anyway, and the competitive parenting re: reading stops.

Decoy Tue 14-May-13 18:05:06

Maths is valuable for keeping options open later on. If maths skills are weak, then physics will be difficult too, for example.

Wishiwasanheiress Tue 14-May-13 18:10:32

I was taught maths really badly. I am not looking forward to any work on that. I'm confident in every other subject.

Incase you are wondering, how badly, I avoid maths at every opp. I'm not even sure I know xtables.

I'd blush but I'm so past it I can't be bothered. Dad will do maths ill do every other subject. I will be boring them to tears in every way including maths (but without it being obvious!)

MimsyBorogroves Tue 14-May-13 18:15:59

I absolutely agree, but I know I'm one of the number who fall into this.

Reading is my passion, and as such it's been second nature to me to read with both boys since their birth. Aside from books with numbers in, and counting things on a page, however, maths never really entered my head as something to think about.

And yes, I have The Fear where maths is concerned. In primary school we were taught to use our fingers for counting, and as such even basic maths is difficult for me because I've never got over that barrier. I scraped a C at GCSE purely because I had a tutor for a couple of hours prior to my exam, so everything was already "in my head" when I went into the exam.

We too have had literacy evenings and spellings evenings at DS's school, but no numeracy. We get reading books sent home, but no ideas of what to do with maths. I appreciate that for some people maths is second nature, but I have no idea where to start at home. I should research it more, but I think we should be able to get support from the schools too - particularly considering that, as far as I know, methods in teaching have changed so much since I left.

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