Adding Up the Benefits of Learning Maths at Home and School
Looking specifically at primary school children, the effects of learning from home, not being with their peers, and the impact on their mental wellbeing, in addition to the pressure on parents to ‘teach’ them have been immense. But amongst all these distressing experiences and outcomes, one positive thing has emerged: parents have developed an incredibly valuable understanding of working with their children and appreciating what and how they are learning at school. Joy Deep Nath, Co-Founder of SplashLearn, explores the positive side of all this and why he hopes schools will use this opportunity to formally involve parents in the learning process.
For years we have recognised the value of having primary school children’s parents more involved in their learning. In fact, John Hattie's seminal 2008 study, Visible Learning: A Synthesis of Over 800 Meta-Analyses Relating to Achievement found that "the effect of parental engagement over a student's school career is equivalent to adding two or three years to that student's education" something that the pandemic has turned into a necessity.
Parents are incredibly valuable in supporting their child’s development, but the power of their contribution can be multiplied if it is aligned not only to what is being taught in school but more importantly, the way it is being taught. Historically, maths was seen as a subject that needed memorisation and practice, which is why most of us learned all the skills individually - numbers, addition, subtraction, division, fractions and so on. Parents had children sit at home, doing endless sums over the weekend, it’s no wonder most of them developed a negative connotation with mathematics.
Today, the focus has shifted to ensuring children have the ability to make mathematical connections rather than only understanding individual maths skills. It is only when students gain a conceptual understanding of how various mathematical notions can be linked and used to solve problems, that they can apply their learning to real-life situations. Otherwise a child might be able to recite their six times table but not know how much six sweets, priced at 10p each would cost.
The current curriculum which requires children to learn through reasoning, problem-solving and building connections between various mathematical concepts is something that most parents have started to recognise over the past year while helping their children at home. It’s also a curriculum that lends itself to parents helping their children at home and making it a fun experience.
However, while learning from home is ideal for learning mathematical concepts: “you’ve got an hour before your bedtime and the television programme is going to finish in 20 minutes, how long will you have to do your homework?”, another important thing that parents have learned during the pandemic is that they just don’t have time to give their children the focus they need.
This is Where Technology Steps in
While traditionally, homework has been the common thread tying together what a child learns in school and at home, this has completely changed since remote learning became the norm. Now there are online learning resources used in schools which can also be remotely accessed at home.
For example, SplashLearn has a school and home version; both are aligned to the curriculum and the student can not only complete the assignments their teacher sets for them but also continue learning from their profile at home. Both their parents and teacher can track their progress.
Rather than having to sit over endless pages of sums for homework, they play fun challenges aligned to the national curriculum. At times, the children don’t even realise they are ‘doing maths’.
Learning Through Games is Easy
Of course, many parents have become cognizant of the importance of monitoring how much time their children spend online. The important differentiator to keep in mind is that it’s not just about how much time is being spent in front of screens but whether that time is meaningful. Most parents use fun screen-time as a carrot to get their kids to finish their school work (which is often also in front of a screen).
It’s important to choose digital learning resources that are well-designed and researched to provide learning opportunities to children in a way that creates a daily learning routine for them. Instead of segregating study time and play time, game-based learning creates an overlap between them. It also offers parents an opportunity to not just teach their children but to become a co-player, as they play and learn along with them.
Hopefully after things finally go back to normal, parents will stay as involved in their child’s learning as they are today. It could become our secret weapon against the ever widening learning gap.
SplashLearn is a game-based maths and reading programme which is used in schools and homes across the world. For more information visit https://uk.splashlearn.com