If we hear a child say ‘I can’t read very well’, we do something – praise the child, motivate, encourage. And it’s rare to hear an adult saying they’re a poor reader. When it comes to maths, though, it’s a different matter. We’ve probably all heard, “…and I can’t help him, because I’ve always been rubbish at maths…” or similar. We may even have said it ourselves.
Therein lies the problem. Children will tell you they’re bad at maths because they hear adults say it, or worse, their own parents. It becomes socially acceptable – it’s already socially acceptable, and in some cases, almost a badge of honour. Compare this to reading, and you’ll see the struggle we’re up against. It is ingrained in our culture and has been for a generation.
But at the end of the day, isn’t maths just the same as reading – and really, just as straightforward. Children need encouragement, motivation and praise to build self-esteem and confidence. They need the foundations, repetition and practice…. above all… lots and lots of practice. Great parents listen to their children read every day.
We need more parents spending time talking about maths at home. And adults must remember they are role models to children – especially with maths – and as such, need to be confident with it, or certainly appear confident, in front of children. Good teachers know this and are experts at blagging when they don’t know the answer. Perhaps we need to help parents become better blaggers at maths!