Making a difference: Maths made easier.

Parents Australia and Brookfield Rail are working in partnership to take some of the mystery and anxiety out of maths for Indigenous families in the Great Southern, Eastern Goldfields and Midwest regions of Western Australia.

Many parents worry about maths. They didn’t like it at school, they think they can’t do it and they’re pretty sure they don’t know enough to help their children. Many educators, including early childhood teachers, worry about maths for the same reasons.

By the time children start school, they have already developed mathematics understandings through their every-day learning at home and in community. Families, early childhood educators and teachers can accelerate this learning by developing their own confidence and understanding of what helps young children to develop and master maths skills.

Australian and international research shows that children who start kindergarten and school with good maths skills have a significant head start, and this has a positive effect on their academic achievement as they move through school.

Families can do many things to support young children’s mathematical learning: read to them and with them because literacy is important in mathematics, count food items as they go into the shopping trolley or get unpacked at home, use string or a shoelace to measure objects around the house, tally sport scores, choose catalogue products and add and subtract values, work out bus timetables, explain patterns and shapes on clothing and in art, and ask questions that encourage investigation and problem-solving.

Family attitudes are important too because children pick up on these. Tracey Muir from the University of Tasmania says student attitudes are strongly influenced by parent attitudes – which often include anxiety, helplessness, fear and dislike. She also says that although many parents do think maths is important, they also think it’s dull and boring.

Through our flagship Indigenous Parent Factor program, Parents Australia aims to empower the confidence and capacity of Indigenous parents and families to engage in young children’s home and school-based learning. We are delighted that Brookfield Rail has come on board.

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