Many parents ‘struggle’ with kids’ maths homework

Even simple sums can require a calculator for some parents. Picture: Getty
Even simple sums can require a calculator for some parents. Picture: Getty
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MANY parents admit they struggle to help their children with maths problems such as long division, fractions and percentages, despite finding the subject useful in their working life, according to a poll.

Over a third of mothers and fathers think maths is the hardest subject to help their child with, ahead of modern languages, science, history, geography and English, it revealed.

It also found that around half of parents cannot answer a maths problem designed for ten-year-olds.

The survey, commissioned by Pearson with Carol Vorderman’s online maths school The Maths Factor, asked 1,000 parents for their views on the subject.

It found that one in four said they would not be confident in assisting their youngster with long division without the aid of a calculator, while a similar proportion said they would struggle to help with converting between decimals, fractions and percentages.

Nearly one in five said they do not feel equipped to help with long multiplication and 6 per cent said they would have difficulty helping with times tables.

But despite many admitting they do not feel confident helping with their child’s maths homework on these ideas, 82 per cent of those questioned said that they find maths useful in working life, second only to English.

The poll also claimed that less than half could correctly answer a primary school maths problem on currency conversion without the use of a calculator.

Parents were asked: “£1 exchanges for $1.60 Ashley returns from holiday with $20 having spent $60. How many pounds did Ashley start with?”

Around 47 per cent gave the right answer of £50.

Overall, more than a third of the mothers and fathers questioned said maths was one of their most difficult subjects, while 34 per cent said that they disliked it at school and 25 per cent said they would rather admit to being bad at maths than to being bad at English.

But just 9 per cent said that they had no need for maths in modern day life and the majority (82 per cent) thought that basic maths at primary school can help children solve more complex problems in later life.

Two-thirds said that their child becoming confident in maths is one of the most important objectives of their youngster’s primary maths education, while 44 per cent thought it important that their child enjoys maths and 42 per cent thought it was important that youngsters are well prepared for secondary school.

According to the Scottish Survey of Literacy and Numeracy 2013, 69 per cent of primary four pupils performed “well or very well” at first level maths skills.

At secondary school level the percentage of students who did well or very well in S2 at third level maths sat at just 42 per cent.

Ms Vorderman said: “Maths skills are essential in everyday life and it’s perhaps concerning to see a divide opening up between those who are aware of the new curriculum and those who aren’t, and between those who have the confidence to help their children and those who don’t.

“As a parent myself, I know how busy life gets, but with a bit of support we can all easily become confident with numbers.”

The ICM poll questioned 1,000 parents between 3 and 13 October.