Why can't I help my kids with their homework?
Chris - Ems. I'm very sympathetic because this is sort of how we began the programme. John's been in touch to say, I'm hearing a lot that children need to improve their maths skills. But when I take a look at my daughter's homework, I don't know where to start. He says, are we asking too much from our kids when many of them can already outperform their parents?
Chris Smith put this question to Cambridge mathematician, Ems Lord...
Ems - Really good question John, and I'm really sorry that that's been happening to your family. I think it comes back to what our expectations are of homework and there's so many different ways that we can support children at home with their maths or any other homework. One way is sitting down and actually doing the homework with them, but that's not the only way. Making sure there's a space to work, somewhere nice and quiet. Checking that they've got the homework, checking that they've finished it, being there to answer any questions, they're all important too. Now in this instance, it sounds like it was something pretty challenging because John was struggling with it. So how do we get over that problem? And perhaps it's time to rethink what we send home as opposed to what we do in the classroom. In the classroom, we've got professionals who understand the strategies and the journey that the children are on and some of those strategies have changed over time as well. So rather than sending home new things that the children are less familiar with, use homework as an opportunity to reinforce and practice and maybe play mathematical games together. If it's fun and you can join in together, that can work really well. We did a project called Solving Together where we did just that and we did before and after. And the before sketches of doing homework were young students in their rooms by themselves doing homework. The after were sketches of family and friends sat together playing maths games, having a great time. So it can be done. It just needs that rethink of what we mean by homework.
Chris - Hear, hear on that one.