‘The Parent Factor’ – The Importance of Parental Involvement in Children’s Maths Learning and How to Engage That Involvement
No teacher will be surprised at the conclusion of a recent study into parental involvement in their children’s maths learning:
The volume and statistical significance of the evidence, both quantitative and qualitative, strongly demonstrates that parental engagement leads to increased confidence and improved behaviours in maths and raises standards of attainment. Parents are indeed a significant factor in determining how well children learn maths, and schools should work towards improving the level and quality of parental engagement.
The study, Count on Us: Parental Engagement Numeracy Programme (main findings in the infographic on page 5), was carried out by National Numeracy, and funded by The Mayor’s Fund for London and MAN Group.
But how, exactly, did the schools in the study get parents involved?
What is less clear to teachers, is how to engage the parents that are more inclined to leave their child’s education to the school.
Appendix 4 (p36) of the study’s report gives more detail, but among methods used were:
- Parents’ workshops,
- Inviting parents into lessons
- Maths games/puzzles clubs
- Guides for parents,
- Drop-in maths surgeries
- Bring a Dad day
- Family numeracy classes
There is plenty more information from National Numeracy on engaging parents, including addressing barriers for parents such as: negative experience of school themselves (or specifically of maths), poor English, lack of time, or just not knowing what they can do to best help their child.
From the classroom end, all schools in the study used National Numeracy’s Family Maths Scrapbook – an A4-size book of blank pages to encourage children to work freely, with their parents, on various activities (provided in PDF form). Schools were encouraged to set this as an alternative to traditional homework, rather than as an optional extra.
What can my school do to get the parents involved?
The report states:
Whilst the schools received £2,000 to implement the project, sustainability of the parental engagement strategy does not require this level of financial support. Once embedded in whole school policy and practice, the ongoing cost is minimal.
In addition to this, all of the resources used by schools in the study are available on National Numeracy’s Family Maths Toolkit website. The site has a huge number of resources and ideas for getting parents and carers involved in their children’s maths education. There is an Advice For Families section, as well as plenty of activities for children, with guidance about what they will be learning at school at various ages. There is also a section aimed at schools wanting to get their parents interested.
Here are some examples from the PDF packs used by schools in the study and available, with the scrapbooks: