It adds up

With recent reports showing Australian performance in mathematics has stagnated over the years parents can take the extra step to help their children succeed academically.

There are many things parents can and should do to help their children learn mathematics, particularly before they begin school and during their primary school years.

Parents need to be positive about maths and develop a positive working relationship with teachers. 

They should know what maths their child is learning and make maths part of their everyday activities.

My research on student engagement has revealed that parents who demonstrate a negative attitude towards maths often have an impact on their child's decision to continue studying the subject in high school.

It is therefore important for parents to be conscious of displaying positive attitudes towards mathematics, even when it's challenging.

Using encouraging statements and acknowledging that mathematics is challenging, but not impossible, can be the key to helping children succeed academically in this important subject.

There are many free online support courses such as Jo Boaler's YouCubed website or a variety of mathematics apps which parents can access to help them help their children.

Those opting for tutoring should find a tutor that knows how to teach for understanding rather than just memorising.

The traditional method of drill and practice won't help a struggling student to understand important mathematical concepts.

A tutor who understands the curriculum can tailor a program to work alongside what their child is learning at school.

The way mathematics is taught has changed significantly over the last few decades. Talking to your child's teacher can help parents understand what their child should be learning. Alternatively, mathematics curriculums are accessible online.

Children need to understand how numbers work. In other words, they need to be numerate, and have flexibility with numbers.

Dr Catherine Attard

Western Sydney University