The power of a parents influence on a child’s maths journey

A new study into classroom practices, led by Dr Steve Murphy, has found extensive research fails to uncover how teachers can remedy poor student engagement and perform well in maths.

His study shows valuable insights into the role of both teachers and parents in shaping a child’s engagement and success in maths. It emphasises the importance of comprehensive research and support for educators and families to foster mathematical interest and proficiency among students, especially during the formative years when attitudes toward maths begin to take shape.

Research from La Trobe University’s School of Education can explain why poor student engagement in mathematics persists around the world.

A key takeaway is the significant influence parents have on their children’s maths education.

Dr Murphy addresses the common sentiment among parents that “it’s OK, I was never good at maths,” highlighting the need to shift this mindset. Unlike reading or writing, where parents typically prioritize support and encouragement, maths often carries a stigma that can be perpetuated through parental attitudes. However, Dr Murphy reassures parents that they don’t need to be mathematical experts to support their children effectively. Instead, they just need to show a willingness to learn and engage with modern teaching methods, and just this can make a substantial difference.

More than 3000 research papers were reviewed over the course of the study, but only 26 contained detailed steps for teachers to improve both student engagement and results in maths.

Dr Murphy said the scarcity of research involving young children was concerning.

Parents are encouraged to stay positive, be supportive, and show interest in their children’s maths learning journey. Even if they feel uncertain about their own maths abilities, their involvement and encouragement can significantly impact their child’s perception of the subject and motivation to learn.

Overall, Dr Murphy emphasizes the importance of collaboration between educators and parents to create an environment where students feel empowered and motivated to excel in maths. La Trobe’s School of Education is determined to improve mathematical outcomes for students, arguing it’s an important school subject that is highly applicable in today’s technologically rich society.

By working together and embracing a positive approach, both teachers and parents can play a vital role in nurturing a child’s mathematical growth and confidence.