Carol Vorderman On Sky News Thursday 24 January 2013

Sky News had an interview with Carol Vorderman today, 24 January 2013. A cynic might say it was free advertising for her latest product.  Yet she said something which made my ears prick up.

What was it?

Studies in US have found when you compare the influence teachers and parents have on primary school children one group clearly has more influence.


I think I will say that again

Studies in US have found  parents have a bigger influence on their children when at primary school than teachers.

Why did this make my years prick up?

It’s what I have been saying for years!

It is my belief, based on observing fellow parents, that they drastically underestimate the huge effect they have on their childrens’ development.  Two years ago I wrote a report which said exactly this. You can download the report,Seven Little Mistakes in exchange for leaving your email address.

Surely parent’s don’t have enough time to be a big influence?

The primary school day in UK is from about 8:45 to 15:00.

Allow 1 ¼ hours for lunch, playtime etc; this leaves 5 hours or 300 minutes for lessons.

Suppose there are 20 pupils in a class and the teacher shared their time equally between pupils that is only 15 minutes a day each. And if there are 30 pupils only 10 minutes.

In practice their will be times when a teacher addresses the whole class, which means a pupil gets more than the 10 or 15 minutes.  On the other had their will be assemblies, PE and other activities which mean school time isn’t used for core learning.

What I have tried to show is if you can give your child 10 or 15 minutes help with maths or english although this may seem  not very much it is likely to be as much or MORE attention than they are getting at school.

More important it is individual attention from someone important to your child – YOU.

Maths – it’s all different now.

Much of what Carol had to say was about maths (or more accurately arithmetic as most of primary school “maths” is actually arithmetic).

It seems either

  • The way maths is taught has been repeatedly changed
  • Or parents feel the way maths is taught has been changed from the way they were taught.

What ever the reason maths is a subject which parents feel particularly blocked from helping their children.

My message is have just have a go, after all 2+2 still = 4.

In particular times tables, a common bug bear, are still exactly the same.

And the reports Carol mentioned?

I only spent a few minutes googling and didn’t get past the first page of the search results but how about these.

The message is clear – parental involvement and expectations are crucial.

In Summary

As a parent you can offer

  • Patience – don’t get frustrated or angry
  • Persistence – don’t give up, you’re looking at months or years not days or weeks
  • Consistency – if you spend 5 or 10 minutes a day on tables, after a while it becomes a normal part of every day life, like cleaning your teeth or breakfast.

compare learning maths with learning to speak or learning to read or write.

  • Do you search for books titled “learn to speak in 5 minutes a day”?
  • Do you expect to only speak to your children once a week?
  • Do you send them into a room by themselves to learn to speak by themselves?

I doubt it.

Much more likely you children learn to speak naturally by interacting with you and others as you go about your daily lives.  If it works for speaking why not for everything else?

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