24 SES 11 JS, Creative Approaches in Mathematics Education
Paper Session, Joint Session NW 20 and NW 24
Across Europe the numbers of students pursuing maths compared with other subjects is in decline. Despite this, only a minority of countries in Europe have any national strategies aimed at increasing students’ motivation in mathematics (Parveva et al, 2011). It is important, therefore, to support children’s engagement with and enjoyment of mathematical concepts at an early age. This paper presents preliminary findings from workshops with parents in English primary schools in the Everyday Maths project. These workshops aimed to support parents in developing conversations with their children around the mathematics that arises in everyday life.
Existing literature on parents' roles in children's mathematics learning often focuses on parents' abilities to help children with classroom tasks. However, there is conflicting evidence regarding parents' abilities to help children with homework. A meta-analysis of this research indicates that helping with homework can have a negative effect on children’s achievement, especially when help consists of supervision rather than more engaged forms of guidance (Patall, Cooper, & Robinson, 2008). Alternative forms of parental involvement are less dependent on schoolwork and resourced by household activity. Families often face situations of problem solving requiring considerable mathematical knowledge and practice (Goldman & Booker, 2009). Research on mathematics in the home consistently shows that families often draw on distinctive funds of knowledge that include an array of information, skills and strategies that can be qualitatively different to, but equally effective as, the mathematical knowledge that children are taught in school (Baker & Street, 2004; González, Moll, & Amanti, 2005). Earlier attempts to connect home and school mathematics demonstrate that day-to-day household situations offer a context rich in opportunities for children to learn and apply different forms of mathematics (Winter, Salway, Yee, & Hughes, 2004)
The everyday activity of parents is expected to provide a rich source of contexts for engaging in effortful and meaningful mathematics practice. Our own research (Jay & Xolocotzin, 2012; Xolocotzin & Jay, 2012) indicates that young children and their parents participate in a range of household situations that can be addressed mathematically. For instance, children reported taking part in the budgeting for parties and holidays, and showed an awareness of household economy management, including the selection of mobile phone networks and utilities providers. Children also showed concern for longer term financial issues, such as saving for university and 'the future', even whilst still at primary school. Monetary practices such as receiving pocket money, spending and saving were also frequently described as part of everyday family situations. There were outstanding cases in which children described how their parents help them to apply sophisticated concepts such as investment and profit in authentic contexts such as markets or the internet.
Aside from monetary activities in which children and parents are involved, in line with Goldman and Booker (2009) we have found that family activities can entail a range of mathematical operations, often involving arithmetic and counting but also including logic, geometry, optimization, combinatorics, measurement, and algebra. Other processes important for using mathematics can also be observed in everyday situations at home, such as explanations, generalizations, representations and the development of problem solving strategies and approaches. Collaborative construction and use of tools, including calculators, rulers and other measuring tools, computers and visual representations, is also important. By resolving everyday problems with their children, parents can share their mathematical knowledge by modelling, prompting, or disclosing the solution.
This paper asks how useful a short series of workshops is in supporting parents to develop their confidence in talking about mathematical concepts with their children, and what can be learned from the experience of running the workshops.
Baker, D., & Street, B. (2004). Mathematics as Social. For the Learning of Mathematics, 24(2), 19-21. Goldman, S., & Booker, A. (2009). Making math a definition of the situation: Families as sites for mathematical practices. Anthropology & Education Quarterly, 40(4), 369-387. González, N., Moll, L. C., & Amanti, C. (2005). Funds of knowledge: Theorizing practices in households, communities, and classrooms. Mahwah, NJ Lawrence Erlbaum. Jay, T., Rose, J. and Simmons, B. (2014). Why parents can’t always get what they (think they) want. In C. Smith (Ed.) Proceedings of the British Society for Research into Learning Mathematics, 33(2) June 2013. Jay, T., & Xolocotzin, U. (2012). Mathematics and economic activity in primary school children. Paper presented at PME 36, Taipei, Taiwan. Parveva, T., Noorani, S., Ranguelov, S., Motiejunaite, A. and Kerpanova, V. (2011). Mathematics Education in Europe: Common Challenges and National Policies. Brussels: Eurydice. Patall, E. A., Cooper, H., & Robinson, J. C. (2008). Parent involvement in homework: A research synthesis. Review of Educational Research, 78(4), 1039-1101. Sirvani, H. (2007). The effect of teacher communication with parents on students' mathematics achievement. American Secondary Education, 36(1), 31-46. Winter, J., Salway, L., Yee, W. C., & Hughes, M. (2004). Linking home and school mathematics: The home school knowledge exchange project. Research In Mathematics Education, 6(1), 59-75. Xolocotzin, U., & Jay, T. (2012). The economic world of children from their own point of view. Presented at IAREP 2012, Wroclaw, Poland.
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