Parents and Numeracy

National Numeracy

The importance of parents

As a parent/carer, you are there to give your child their first experiences of maths: from sorting toys to baking cakes, from going shopping to learning to ride a bike (and if you're wondering about the maths in riding a bike, just think about speed, distance, balance, wheels etc - it's all maths!).

Even if you don’t feel confident with maths, you can still make a huge difference to your child’s numeracy confidence and ability.

Key Points

  • Helping your child feel positive about maths is really important and it’s something every parent can do.
  • Maths is everywhere – pointing this out helps children understand the importance of maths, and enjoy it too.

What is numeracy about?

Being numerate is a life skill that will help your child at home, at school, and one day in their work lives too.

At all levels learning maths is about solving problems, thinking logically and being creative in finding ways of working things out.

A good understanding of numeracy will help your child with everyday tasks like

  • Solving problems
  • Making decisions
  • Understanding information

For everyone, for life

Numeracy is still important even after children leave school. Children with good numeracy skills are more likely to

  • Stay in education longer
  • Be in work as adults
  • Earn more throughout their lives

The importance of children’s early experiences

A child’s early experiences with maths can affect how they feel about maths throughout their lives.

In the UK it’s really common to hear people saying ‘I can’t do maths’. But we know that every child can learn to do maths - and also that every parent can too. There are lots of things you can do to help build your child’s skills and confidence – and your own too.

What you can do to help your child

The most important thing to do is help your child to feel positive about maths and have fun with it whenever possible.

In the UK people are often negative about maths and this makes it harder for children to understand the reasons why we need to learn maths. Follow our top tips and help your child develop maths confidence.

  1. Don’t say things like ‘I can’t do maths’ or ‘I hated maths at school’… your child might start to think like that themselves…

  2. Do talk about the maths in everyday life, and ask your child how they work out problems or questions.

  3. Do let your child enjoy talking about what they’ve learned, and praise them when they try hard.

  4. Don’t put pressure on your child to do written or timed sums – use time at home to do more practical maths like shopping or cooking.

  5. Do try out the National Numeracy Challenge yourself – the more confident you feel, the more you’ll be able to help your child.

The other really important thing is to give your child the opportunity to use and talk about maths every day. This will help them to become a mathematical problem solver, and develop lifelong skills such as:

  • Sorting – into groups, into order, and comparing
  • Measuring
  • Calculating – adding, subtracting, multiplying, dividing etc
  • Organising and understanding information
  • Looking for patterns and relationships between numbers
  • Making sense of and checking information – learning to ask ‘is this answer sensible’?
  • Communicating and presenting information

Children learn maths best through activities and tasks where they have to make choices in order to solve a problem or a puzzle and where they can explore and talk about their ideas and approach to the problem. The more variety they experience with maths, the more comfortable they will feel.