Vlog Ep #04: Math-Anxious Parents Produce Anxious Kids Who Know Less Math (research report)

Do you wonder about the wisdom of sending math homework home? Have you ever had a sneaky suspicion that parents may actually not be helping their kids learn math?

Well, now there’s evidence that supports your caution.

Research: Do Parents Help, or Hinder Their Kids’ Math Learning?

If you have any interest in helping kids with their math learning, I urge you to watch the video, then go and read this article:

Briefly, the findings of this year-long research using children in grades 1 and 2 and their parents were:

  • Parents who reported math anxiety themselves, and who helped their children with math homework resulted in children who:
    • were more anxious about  math themselves
    • learned less math over the year
  • Reading scores were not affected
  • Parents who did not help with math homework had no significant effect

This is a hugely important set of findings. I believe all K-6 math teachers should address the issues here, for the sake of their students’ learning.

Suggestions for Every K-6 Math Teacher:

  • Don’t set math homework that is likely to cause stress or anxiety in parents who themselves are not confident in math
  • Talk to parents about the messages they send (often unwittingly) to their children about math and math learning
  • Make suggestions to parents about low-stress ways to help their kids with math
  • Point out everyday activities that parents could use as springboards for incidental math conversations:
    • Shopping
    • Cooking
    • Budgeting
    • Deciding what to buy
    • Keeping track of sports scores, race times, etc.
    • Playing board games and dice games
  • Urge parents to let their children know that they believe in their children’s future success in math and to talk positively about how useful math is to all adults

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K-6 Math in the News: Everyone CAN Succeed at Maths

What do your students believe about their abilities in mathematics? Do they say “I can do this”, or “I’ll never get this”?

Original article link: How ‘Everyone Can’ Succeed at Maths – TES UK, 6th July 2016

I’m sure all teachers know about the idea of the “self-fulfilling prophecy”: if you start off believing that you have a high achieving class, they are more likely to do well than if you believe from the star that they are a “weak” class.

This article focuses on the message that “Everyone Can” succeed at math, urging teachers and students to believe in the students’ success.

I recommend that you watch the video linked in the article, which has a really nice performance by a young girl taking the role of teacher “Miss Rose”, teaching a class of adults acting as the students:

Maths: Everyone Can from White Rose Maths Hub.

What do you think? Is simply being positive about students’ abilities and capabilities really going to make a difference to the results that they achieve? And are some people simply born “with a maths brain” and others not? Please leave a comment below; I’d love to hear what you think.