Changing Attitudes to Maths via Parental Involvement Across The School one class at a time
Experiences and Attitudes
Rarely do you hear adults proclaiming their love for maths but plenty will tell you that they dislike it. Maths can often often be experienced as a solitary pursuit enjoyed by a handful of individuals, with others often left confused as to why they aren’t ‘good’ at it. So it begins, with confidence and positive attitudes disappearing over time, children left with feelings of increased anxiety towards maths that follows them into adulthood and a decreasing aspiration towards anything mathematical.
We didn’t do maths like this when I was in school, I haven’t got a clue. I wasn’t any good at maths at school.
A successful maths experience shouldn’t be defined by how many times-tables a child can recall quickly or how many pages of ‘sums’ they can calculate in a lesson. Thankfully, things are changing and children are now ‘owning their own learning’ at all ability levels and enjoying maths as long as there is a consistent, whole-school approach to maths with language-rich collaborative elements and plenty of opportunities to solve, problems, practice skills and reason mathematically.
Keen to share our love of maths lessons with the wider community, I invited parents in to experience Swimming In Maths with their children.
As mentioned in my previous blog post, there are 320 children on roll and we serve a diverse and disadvantaged community with 76% EAL children speaking 35 languages. We also have 17% SEN and a deprivation indicator of 0.47 placing us in the highest quintile of deprivation. Many of our children join the school at a very early stage of English acquisition. (SEF/ Raise On-line 2016
The opportunity to submerge our EAL children in a language rich environment, to promote children taking control and owning their own learning was an opportunity too good to miss especially considering the ‘mathematical reasoning’ area of the National Curriculum. I realised the benefits of collaborative learning a few years ago (details here)
The Door is Always Open
Before their children came in from playtime, parents arrived and I must say some were quite nervous and unsure. I assured them that their children would be leading the learning, it was to be a fun, non-threatening experience, some sat down ready to start maths. I asked them to write down how they felt about maths.
Other parents responded more positively which was nice to see.
Their children were given a secret mission to grab their parents when they arrived in the hall and lead them to the front ready for the counting stick! Of course, we all got ourselves ready for deep learning by breathing 3 times before counting, parents included! It didn’t take long before I got a keen parent to dress up!
The Deep Dive Challenge!
Now we were ready for our collaborative ‘deep dive challenge!’ The children enthusiastically led their parents to their tables where they took part in solving problems, helping them with approaches, showing them which method they used, encouraging parents’ reasoning etc. It was a lovely experience as adults who were previously quite anxious and nervous about today, settled down with their children, talking about their maths together. #proudteachermoment
Returning to the Floor
Afterwards, we returned to the front to feedback and move on. Responses came quick and fast and it took a lot of courage for Devar to explain his reasoning to everyone.
Talk Partners worked a treat as children and their parents spoke about angles that were either acute, obtuse or right angles proving Leanne, Aboodi and Sultan correct or incorrect with reasoning!
The Main, Independent Activity
Afterwards, the children returned to their tables with parents once again, this time for individual work, applying what they know about angles! I thought this was a good opportunity to ask for parents feedback as they continued to work with their children.
Feedback was extremely positive, there was a good ‘vibe’ around the room.
Afterwards, parents even asked me if we could do it again as they enjoyed it so much! Everyone went home with a smile on their faces!
The plan is for this to happen across the school. Early Years have expressed interest in holding a maths ‘Stay and Play’, with KS 1 and 2 getting involved as I have shown here.
Comments are welcome as usual!