Are you smarter than your eight-year-old How 95% of parents are stumped by sums for their kidsOnly one in 20 can do maths intended for junior school age pupilsParents scared of confusing their children because methods have changedGovernment will reinstate tried-and-tested techniques to the curriculum
Laura Clark, Education Correspondent
01:19 GMT, 24 January 2013
01:43 GMT, 24 January 2013
Just one in 20 parents are able to do maths intended for children aged eight to 12 amid confusion over new-fangled methods of teaching the subject.
Only 5 per cent of 2,000 volunteers correctly answered ten questions which tested maths typically taught to junior school pupils.
Nearly two-thirds of the parents who took part said they were reluctant to get involved with maths homework for fear of confusing their children due to new methods used to teach the subject.
Parents said they were afraid of helping their children with maths homework because they fear teaching methods have changed
Following curriculum changes in the late 1990s, many teachers use techniques such as ‘chunking’ and ‘gridding’ instead of traditional methods.
‘Chunking’ is a form of long division which requires pupils to subtract ‘chunks’ from a number and involves an element of guesswork, and ‘gridding’ requires youngsters to fill in grids to multiply numbers.
Ministers are moving to reinstate tried-and-tested techniques after admitting parents are often left ‘utterly baffled’ by the methods.
Now a survey by learning firm Pearson has found that parents’ lack of confidence in their maths skills is preventing them helping their children despite evidence that parental involvement strongly influences success at school.
Results from a short quiz suggest many parents’ maths skills are rusty, with only 5 per cent correctly answering all questions which covered fractions, angles, area and percentages.
Nearly four in ten – 39 per cent – were unable to answer a simple question about fractions aimed at eight-year-olds. Nearly three-quarters – 73 per cent – were stumped by a calculation question for 11- and 12-year-olds.
A poll accompanying the quiz found that 65 per cent of parents worry that if they try to help with maths homework they will simply confuse their child because of the new teaching methods.
Education Minister Liz Truss last week unveiled a shake-up of national tests for 11-year-olds which will specify that children should learn efficient calculation methods for multiplication and division, with no reference to chunking or gridding. The poll followed the launch of an online maths homework service called Maths Made Easy, backed by TV presenter Carol Vorderman.
Teachers set homework for pupils to complete online and the answers are automatically marked and sent back to teachers, while parents can keep track of progress.
Miss Vorderman said: ‘Studies have shown that if parents help their children with homework they are more likely to succeed at school.
‘It is therefore worrying that so many parents lack confidence in their own maths skills.’
Studies have highlighted England’s poor maths record, with more than eight million adults lacking even basic numeracy.