Parents / Carers

Parents/carers are a child’s first teachers.

Parents and carers

These pages are designed to give you an overview of the key elements of numeracy and guide you towards some resources that are both practical and fun to use.

Read National Numeracy Trustee Wendy Jones' Mumsnet blog 'I can't do maths' - if you're saying it, your kids probably are too.

The importance of parents

As a parent/carer, you are there to give your child their first experiences of maths: from sorting toys to baking cakes, from going shopping to learning to ride a bike (and if you're wondering about the maths in riding a bike, just think about speed, distance, balance, wheels etc - it's all maths!).

Even if you don’t feel confident with maths, you can still make a huge difference to your child’s numeracy confidence and ability.

Key Points

  • Helping your child feel positive about maths is really important and it’s something every parent can do.
  • Maths is everywhere – pointing this out helps children understand the importance of maths, and enjoy it too.

What is numeracy about?

Being numerate is a life skill that will help your child at home, at school, and one day in their work lives too.

At all levels learning maths is about solving problems, thinking logically and being creative in finding ways of working things out.

A good understanding of numeracy will help your child with everyday tasks like

  • Solving problems
  • Making decisions
  • Understanding information

For everyone, for life

Numeracy is still important even after children leave school. Children with good numeracy skills are more likely to

  • Stay in education longer
  • Be in work as adults
  • Earn more throughout their lives

The importance of children’s early experiences

A child’s early experiences with maths can affect how they feel about maths throughout their lives.

In the UK it’s really common to hear people saying ‘I can’t do maths’. But we know that every child can learn to do maths - and also that every parent can too. There are lots of things you can do to help build your child’s skills and confidence – and your own too.

What you can do to help your child

The most important thing to do is help your child to feel positive about maths and have fun with it whenever possible.

In the UK people are often negative about maths and this makes it harder for children to understand the reasons why we need to learn maths. Follow our top tips and help your child develop maths confidence.

  1. Don’t say things like ‘I can’t do maths’ or ‘I hated maths at school’… your child might start to think like that themselves…
  2. Do talk about the maths in everyday life, and ask your child how they work out problems or questions.
  3. Do praise your child for effort, rather than talent. 
  4. Do use time at home to practice practical maths like shopping or cooking.
  5. Do try out the National Numeracy Challenge yourself – the more confident you feel, the more you’ll be able to help your child.

The other really important thing is to give your child the opportunity to use and talk about maths every day. This will help them to become a mathematical problem solver, and develop lifelong skills such as:

  • Sorting – into groups, into order, and comparing
  • Measuring
  • Calculating – adding, subtracting, multiplying, dividing etc
  • Organising and understanding information
  • Looking for patterns and relationships between numbers
  • Making sense of and checking information – learning to ask ‘is this answer sensible’?
  • Communicating and presenting information

Children learn maths best through activities and tasks where they have to make choices in order to solve a problem or a puzzle and where they can explore and talk about their ideas and approach to the problem. The more variety they experience with maths, the more comfortable they will feel.

This article shows how every child can learn maths - and has some great tips for parents too.

Use the links below to see our age-specific advice and activities. Activities for older children coming soon.

Everyday maths activities for Under 5s, or take a look at our 'We do maths every day!' parents' leaflet.

Everyday maths activities for 5-8 year olds

Parents_carers box

How you can make a difference

We’re just getting started and we are very keen to work
with parents to support their children’s numeracy
development. Please get in touch to:

  • tell us about resources and activities that you like
    and think we should share and promote through the site
  • point us to important information and web links
    it would be useful to add
  • let us know of gaps you think we should address
  • suggest projects that we should be considering
  • let us know about public figures perpetuating
    the ‘I can’t do maths’ attitude
  • or anything else!

You may be interested in this…

Some links for learners

Help for Parents/Carers

Some books and websites
to help you support your
child's numeracy learning

Our Parents page

Everyday maths activities for Under 5s

Talk it, play it,
see it, touch it,
think about maths – every day!

Activities for older children
coming soon!

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