Suffolkmaths Homepage

Working with Parents

Involving Parents in a Sustainable Way

This page is mainly about how a department can help parents support their child with their Mathematics but I felt it was important to add this link by @MathedUp which is about what can be done as a classroom teacher involve parents during the year in a sustainable way - Click here

Setting Expectations - Click here

Maths Anxiety: Many parents suffer from mathematics anxiety or helplessness in UK; there is a risk that this anxiety or helplessness might be transmitted to their children.

Parenting for mathematical resilience

Many parents have developed an anxiety which has made them feel helpless in the face of their own children’s difficulties for all the reasons discussed above. Left unrecognized, this anxiety is likely to be passed onto their children. ‘Heather’, a young mother, experienced many negative events whilst at school. Here is one of Heather’s descriptions:

"we were doing maths we were working on long division, I got a red cross on some of my work when I checked on the calculator the answer was correct, (mmm) this puzzled me so when i questioned my teacher she said it was because my working out was wrong and made me feel stupid in front of my peers when I explained (translated) my methods."

Heather, had demonstrated mathematical resilience as a child; she was willing to ‘have a go’, and puzzled by the teacher’s marking. The teacher’s response in this situation undermined Heather; she experienced loss of social esteem, became unwilling to ask questions in the future and thus lost much of her innate mathematical resilience. This is her description of the result when she tried to help her daughter

"throughout the years when I've worked with my daughter on maths homework its been a combination of falling out, shouting, tears , avoidance feeling stupid on both parts her putting herself down me trying to restore her confidence but both of us to[o] tense and stressed for it to make any difference." Chapter in production in 2014: 'The International Handbook for Mathematical Difficulties and Dyscalculia' 38 contributing authors from around the world, edited by Steve Chinn, published by Routledge.

Heather had resources from her daughter’s school; she had the expectation that ‘she should be able to help’ as she did with other subjects; but her own self-image was of total failure in relation to mathematics. Heather sought help from us; she was offered a resource, in the form of a mathematics dictionary. We encouraged her to be aware of her own everyday use of mathematics, and to focus her attention on her role as ‘curious, supportive, listening mother’ rather than inadequate mathematics ‘expert’. With no extra mathematical knowledge, the change was dramatic.

"one day after she came home from school she curiously asked me for the text book they had been working from that day in school, she confidently flicked the page open to an angles section where there was a page full of lines in all directions, and said "we were doing this today but i don't get it " so i said well lets have a look then, with a few minutes she understood, it turned out that all that really confused her was the layout of the page as it was full of lines set up in twos connecting at one point and were heading in all sorts of directions"

Heather’s response is one of supportive curiosity and listening, of modelling resilient behaviours, of talking things through and using resources available, encouraging persistence in thinking with a dash of curiosity and support, along with an expectation that given time a plan of action could be put in place. Thus the home situation is no longer stressful and becomes one of growth in small steps. Instant recognition and answers were no longer expected, greater benefit could be obtained by applying mathematically resilient behaviours.

For additional reading regarding this research by Goodall, J. and Johnston-Wilder, S. looking at the application of “mathematical resilience” in order to develop a positive parental engagement in mathematics - Click here




Numeracy is a life skill. Being numerate goes beyond simply 'doing sums'; it means having the confidence and competence to use numbers and think mathematically in everyday life.


Why is numeracy important?


Everyone needs to be numerate to maximise their life chances and to make a positive contribution to society.

The effect of poor numeracy on people’s lives is often much less obvious than poor literacy. But there is substantial evidence that low numeracy skills are associated with poor outcomes for many people. This has a negative impact on them and their families – and on society as a whole.


Examples of Numeracy


·         Being able to critically assess statistics used by advertisers or politicians.

·         Being able to manage family budgets – credit cards, offers at supermarkets and so on.

·         Being able to estimate – in all kinds of situations, e.g. journey speed, time and distance, roughly how much a bill will be or your expected bank balance at the end of the month. 


What can parents/carers to do help their child with numeracy/maths?


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 these top tips and help your child develop maths confidence.


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

Do praise your child for effort, rather than talent. 

Do use time at home to practise practical maths like shopping or cooking.


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:

·         Measuring e.g. when cooking, decorating etc.

·         Using money e.g. splitting food bills, estimating total cost etc.

·         Calculating – adding, subtracting, multiplying, dividing etc

·         Making sense of and checking information – learning to ask ‘is this answer sensible’?                                     Source

Playing Games

Playing Card and Board Games at home is really important as it helps develop communication skills as well as approaches to strategy [Stuart @sxpmaths]

There are so many excellent games out there that, if children played them frequently, they would help them develop strategic and mathematical thinking skills. I want to quickly highlight some board games, where the Maths is not obvious, that I would recommend people buy to play with their families - Click here [Stuart @sxpmaths]

I have placed a link to a lot of free strategy games which on this page - Click here 

A pack of cards can be used creatively to engage your child in a wide range of interesting activities - for some suggestions - Click here  []

Support for Parents

Guidance and Ideas from Jo Boaler as to how parents can support their children - Click here
Parents Numeracy Booklet pdf version - publisher version - Year 7's Ash Mistry
Parents Numeracy Booklet - Primary DfES

Revision Materials including video tutorials, exam papers, topic tests for all GCSE content can be found here

Numeracy Parent Toolkit

Every parent or carer can help their child with maths – and boost their own confidence at the same time. You don’t need to be a genius to give your child a head start.

We’ve created the National Numeracy Parent Toolkit to help families enjoy maths and develop skills together.

It’s a website full of ideas, resources and activities that explore the maths in everyday life.

Click here

National Numeracy Challenge

To help you improve your own numeracy and boost your confidence, we’ve developed the Challenge Online. This is an interactive website free to use at home, at work or on the move. You can assess your current level of numeracy – in complete confidence – and then begin an online journey to better everyday maths.

Click here

Maths for Mums and Dads guides you through the basics of primary school maths and covers the dilemmas and problems you are likely to be confronted with, including:

* number bonds, place value and decimals

* long multiplication and division

* fractions, percentages and decimals ...

Amazon Link


As your child embarks on secondary school, two new issues arise. First, in the build-up to GCSE, school children begin to do maths that you probably have never encountered before – or if you have, you never really got it in the first place, and have long since forgotten. Factorising? Finding the locus? Solving for x? Probability distributions? What do these even mean?

Amazon Link


Does the sight of your child's maths homework fill you with dread? Do you look for any excuse when they ask you to explain equations, fractions or multiplication? Maths can often leave children - and parents - perplexed.

How to do Maths so Your Children Can Too works through maths topics with a simple step-by-step approach, explaining the new ways of teaching maths that confuse so many parents.

Amazon Link