Parents too scared to help children with maths homework

When they do give maths homework a go, half of parents admit they get it wrong. Picture: Getty
When they do give maths homework a go, half of parents admit they get it wrong. Picture: Getty
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A fifth of parents with children aged six to 16 avoid their child’s maths homework as working with numbers scares them, a survey has found.

Some 20 per cent of parents feel this way about numeracy, according to the Open University Business School (OUBS)’s dedicated research centre and the True Potential Centre for the Public Understanding of Finance.

When they do give maths homework a go, 52 per cent of parents admit they get it wrong, while 17 per cent tell their children to ask their maths teacher for more help and do not get involved.

Nearly one-third of parents said they struggle with maths homework aimed at children aged six to nine, while 28 per cent say they can no longer help out with maths when their child goes to secondary school.

Martin Upton, director of the True Potential Centre for the Public Understanding of Finance at the Open University Business School, said: “Whilst it seems shocking that parents cannot help children as young as nine with their maths homework, ‘arithmophobia’ or a fear of numeracy will have debilitating side-effects in so many other aspects of their everyday lives.”

Many parents surveyed also said they would not be able to pass on basic money skills to their child.

Adding and subtracting without a calculator is a skill one in four parents say they would not be able to pass on.

This is also the case when it comes to teaching children how to split a bill with friends in a restaurant, or working out the best value items in the supermarket.

More than half could not show their children how to find the best value gas and electricity services, while 62 per cent would not know how to find the best mortgage.

Some 71 per cent would not know how to find the most affordable loan in terms of interest charges and 66 per cent could not help their child find the best credit card.

More than 1,000 parents with children aged six to 16 were surveyed.

Earlier this year, a report claimed that parents are to blame for the science and maths skills gap because they put children off the subjects through passing comments.

Mothers and fathers who make negative remarks such as “I hate maths” discourage youngsters from pursuing the subjects, according to David Lakin, who is head of education at the Institution of Engineering and Technology (IET).

The poll by IET found three-quarters of parents rely on Google to help with science and maths homework.