Parents are to blame for children underachieving in maths according to latest TIMSS study

The latest Trends in In International Maths and Study” (TIMSS), which has just been published, has concluded that it is parents who are to blame for their children under achieving in maths. The report has stated, in paragraph 3 of page 194 that;

‘A composition of 7 home based activities; going to the library, being read to, drawing and painting, playing with numbers, being taught numbers, being taught letters and learning poems, rhymes and songs have a greater predictive power for achievements in numeracy and literature than any of the other variables studied, which include parents education, household income and socio-economic status.

And in their opening summary to Chapter 4, page 173, entitled: Home Environment Support for Mathematics Achievement, the highly respected report concludes:

“The importance of an early start in school was related to higher mathematics achievement in TIMSS 2011. Fourth grade students had higher mathematics achievement if their parents reported that they often engaged in early numeracy activities with their children, that their children attended preschool, and that they started school able to do early numeracy tasks. Home resources for learning and high expectation were related to higher average achievement at the fourth and eighth grades.”

And in a country like the UK where, year in year out, the split between children who achieve an acceptable competancy in Maths (Grade C at GCSE) and those who don’t is about 50:50, the report has the following observation in Chapter 4, page 195:

“Internationally, across the countries at the fourth grade, 49 percent of the students had parents that “Often” engaged them in early numeracy activities, and an additional 45 percent had parents that “Sometimes” engaged them in early numeracy activities. The fourth grade students whose parents “Often” engaged them had higher average achievement than the students whose parents only “Sometimes” engaged them in numeracy activities. In several countries, a small percentage of students had parents who “rarely” did any of the numeracy activities with them, and these students typically had low average mathematics achievement.”

Parents need to know these facts. They need to know they can make a difference. They need to know that they don’t need to be rich to make this difference. They need to know, that even if they are extremely busy people, little things can make all the difference.

Little things like simply encouraging your children to learn. To ask questions. To listen in class. Little things like not saying “I hated Maths”. Little things like saying ‘you can do it’. Creating a can- do culture of aspiration and hope is the implicit starting point for all the positive correlations highlighted in the TIMMS report.

David Clancy, creator of the 12 wonderful theMultiples characters which he has put on his unique Times Table plates, bowls, beakers for the home and for schools says:

“The aim is to nudge your child into being confident in being curious, into talking about things, into asking questions, into believing that anything is possible in this still largely unknown, and as Professor ONE Hoot from Berlin often says, “this astonishingly magical universe in which we live”.

Parents must be careful not to push because that creates fear, and fear is toxic to learning. But it is crystal clear from the report that the right sort of background parental support is the key variable and predictor in student’s early and ultimate success at school – and it’s not about how much money you have.”