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reading at the expense of numeracy

(34 Posts)
TheGreatHunt Thu 20-Feb-14 18:06:16

A lot of threads on here talk about reading and getting children to read. Does this mean that numeracy levels are ok or is there more to do in terms of teaching children numeracy?

It's a very garbled way of asking whether I need to be doing little bits of numeracy as well as reading every day when ds starts school?

TeenAndTween Thu 20-Feb-14 18:38:55

Ahhh. This is a subject close to my heart see here

I think yes you should be doing numeracy, but you can build it into every day life:
- counting stairs, cars, socks
- counting backwards from 10 then from 20
- problem solving "look there are 5 birds, if one flew away how may would be left" moving on to what if 2 few away etc.
- sharing sweets, pizza slices etc etc
- are there more pink smarties than blue ones

There is a lot of maths you can do in reception that isn't sitting down doing sums, and you need to be careful that anything you do with written methods ties in with how they are doing it at school.

I've always found the walk to school is good for maths!

mrz Thu 20-Feb-14 18:43:28

Strangely I think most people are more confident with early number/maths learning than with reading.
recite number names in order
Count objects /actions (most board games)
recognise numbers ( doors , buses, car numberplates, birthday cards)
match quantities to numbers
order by size
talk about more/less longer/shorter/ taller etc
talk about time - today/yesterday/tomorrow days of the week morning/afternoon/night lunchtime/bedtime

YoullNeedATray Thu 20-Feb-14 19:11:42

I agree with mrz.

The homework threads are more often asking for help with maths problems than with literacy among older pupils. Reading seems to be the focus of mothers' anxiety in early years, while maths stresses kick in later.

TheGreatHunt Thu 20-Feb-14 20:18:31

TeenandTween, I missed that thread!

I love maths and the idea of maths homework is something I look forward to <geek>
I do get angry at the request for help with homework threads as kids should do it themselves.

I build numeracy in quite a lot and reading - I just find it strange the relentless focus on literacy by parents when we hear that maths levels are not that good.

TheGreatHunt Thu 20-Feb-14 20:20:04

Meant to add Tween will read it now!

littlepurplealien Fri 21-Feb-14 07:29:52

To be able to progress with any subject, children need to be able to understand both written and spoken instructions/explanations. Hence literacy, building up an ability to decode written words and a vocabulary is key to any other subject.

That's why reading, IMHO, comes first.

Very basic early years Maths can take the form of recognising and writing numbers and mathematical symbols, adding and subtracting etc without too much need for reading questions in much detail as the question can be expressed in numbers/symbols. The reading skills need to be in place before this can advance to reading the maths work narrative on the white board etc.

I love number work myself and always did counting out apples/carrots etc into a bag at the supermarket when the dc were younger, counting cars in a row or toy trains or coloured balls etc. Lots of "me do it" fun and learning hidden in there too. Mine were more proficient in numbers before they started school than they were in reading !

Mashabell Fri 21-Feb-14 07:37:40

the relentless focus on literacy
is appropriate for 2 reasons:
1) Being able to read and write is more crucial to other learning that numeracy
2) Maths is logical and systematic and therefore much more teachable than reading writing.

Because English spelling is highly irregular
- with identical letters often having different sounds (man - many, friend - fiend)
- and many sounds having different spellings (any bed said head...; blue shoe flew through too...; their care there....),
there is no universally agreed teaching method that works equally well with all children.
Hence the panic among parents and endless disagreements about teaching methods among teachers.

Bonsoir Fri 21-Feb-14 07:42:03

Early numeracy is very much about numbers - counting, recognising, getting a feel for quantity etc. The classic games (snakes & ladders, tiddlywinks...) are all about learning to count. DD used to walk up and down our road (we live at 189) shouting the door numbers out. DD is 9 and in Y5 now and it's still easy to weave useful numeracy into daily life - measuring tasks around the house etc.

mrz Fri 21-Feb-14 09:15:08

What relentless focus on literacy? confused

Reading and writing can be taught systematically and logically

columngollum Fri 21-Feb-14 10:10:35

Parents are directly involved in reading because reading requires endless amounts of practise.

Numeracy mainly involves understanding. Once you can add, subtract, divide and count small numbers you don't have to keep on doing it over and over again. There are variations on these skills (even at a simple level) which parents may or may not be aware of.

TheGreatHunt Fri 21-Feb-14 10:22:20

If that's the case then why is numeracy not as strong and why is it acceptable to say you're no good with numbers?

It feels like people talk a lot about reading schemes but less so about the skills of children in respect of numbers. Schools, when younger, don't seem to encourage parents to develop numeracy.

Of course you have to be able to read to understand most things although maths has it's own (almost universal) language. Eg 2+1=3 does not require the ability to read a book.

columngollum Fri 21-Feb-14 10:30:33

I think mumbling I'm no good with numbers is old fashioned.

A lot has been written about discouraging a certain generation of parent from saying that on account of how it encourages lax attitudes to numeracy. (And to a point it does indeed.)

I don't know specifically about cases of dyscalculia, but I think there's something to be said about taking care to instil basic numeracy skills in all children (rather than streaming them and letting some kids leave school unable to count and add up.) And there is something else to be said for having a high regard for numeracy skills in the same way that there is a high regard for reading.

But that is a social issue.

Compare the two statements.

I'm no good with maths.
I can't read.

One is taboo. But the reason for that is social, not educational.

mrz Fri 21-Feb-14 10:39:11

It isn't acceptable to say you're no good with numbers although lots of adults believe they "aren't good with numbers" some are even afraid of maths.

I don't think it's true that all schools don't encourage parents to develop numeracy or that reading takes make practice than maths.

I agree that 2+1=3 doesn't require the ability to read a book but in real life when are we presented with number sentences to solve? A child does need to be able to read " Tom has two toy cars if his friend gives him one more how many toy cars will he have altogether?" (very simplified example using your numbers TheGreatHunt).

You might be interested in the method we use which involves home support

Alibabaandthe40nappies Fri 21-Feb-14 10:44:23

DS1 is in Y1 and has this term started having optional Maths homework. School's focus is still very much on literacy, I assume because it enables the children to access other subjects much more easily once they can read - including Maths!

We have always woven a lot of numeracy into daily life which is the best way to encourage confidence.

Cerisier Fri 21-Feb-14 11:09:03

I wish I had a pound for all the parents who have sat in front of me at parents' evenings and told me they were hopeless at maths. I bet they don't tell the English teacher they can't read.

I wish more parents practised maths basics with their DC so that they all arrived in Y7 knowing their tables and number bonds. I tell my students to get their parents to ask them questions on every car journey. Parents who practise maths at home can make a massive difference.

columngollum Fri 21-Feb-14 11:12:13

But why is it (considered) acceptable by parents to tell the maths teacher they're hopeless at maths...

but not the English teacher that they can't read?

columngollum Fri 21-Feb-14 11:16:08

Personally I think it's because books and writing are still highly visible in our society. The BBC has Meet the Author

but never Meet the Mathematician.

We have libraries everywhere and hand out brochures but never number sheets (except at the end of company reports).

So, reading is seen as taking part in our culture whereas maths is far more hidden.

columngollum Fri 21-Feb-14 11:19:09

Authors are invited to speak on TV panels (even when their books are written about a totally different subject). But how often do TV companies invite random mathematicians to debate the ethics of abortion, or even the statistics of climate change? (Mind you, I'm not sure how big the audience would be for a statistics debate.)

Mashabell Fri 21-Feb-14 11:51:00

How much maths do u use daily, compared to reading?

mrz Fri 21-Feb-14 14:59:11

How much maths you use surely depends on your profession my previous job I used much more maths than reading and reading was purely for pleasure.

columngollum Fri 21-Feb-14 15:26:53

I think masha is referring to people in general rather than people who use maths for their jobs. But even the ones who do, if they had to break down the amount of maths they do, and the amount of reading that they do, it would still be interesting. All those emails are still done in English.

TheSurgeonsMate Fri 21-Feb-14 15:40:13

I use this website / book / app: Bedtime Math

It's American, and the written material in the book especially is quite clunky. But, I like the idea and my daughter likes it too. We have read book one twice through doing a sum each night and we are clamouring for book two which will be released next month.

My daughter is not at school yet, but for me it makes as much sense as the NHS message to read books with your baby when they are mere months old - she's seeing me doing sums, and we're making sums a pleasurable part of the evening routine.

mrz Fri 21-Feb-14 15:54:19

People in general tell the time, pay for things they purchase and expect the correct change, make judgements whether to buy the large packet of cornflakes or the BOGOF offer of 2 smaller packets, buy milk and petrol by the litre, get on the right bus by looking at the number, prepare food for the family and set the oven or hob to the correct heat using number scales, and might even weigh ingredients, press the correct buttons on the remote control to watch TV based on numbers maths is all around us if we actually bother looking columngollum you don't need to do "sums" which after all is a tiny part of maths.

TheGreatHunt Fri 21-Feb-14 17:30:46

I think that parents should be encouraged to use maths in daily life with kids. Having good numeracy and a basic grounding does wonders for confidence when adults. Silly things like budgeting, thinking about debt/financing etc etc.

I would have thought I use maths every day! (However I am an accountant!)

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