Family participation in learning is one of the most accurate predictors of a child's success in school and beyond.
The Victorian Maths Challenge recognises the important role families have in their childrens' learning and while you might feel that the maths your child is doing at school is different from how you were taught, you
can make a difference by supporting what your child learns at school and helping them to learn at home.
To this end, The challenge provides families with opportunities to explore maths together. It encourages families to ask questions of one another, to collaborate and to have fun exploring different approaches to open-ended problems.
How to help during and beyond the challenge
Your role is to simply get involved!
With your child, check out the challenges and choose one that suits your family. The challenges have been designed as open-ended maths tasks that require limited amounts of time and materials. Your family might choose to complete one challenge in a short space of time, dedicate 20 minutes each day to a challenge over the course of a week or complete multiple challenges over a weekend.
When working on a challenge talk positively about maths so your child also values it. If your experiences in maths at school were less than ideal, avoid saying comments like 'I was bad at maths at school' or 'I didn't like maths because it was too hard.' These sorts of comments can lower children's own expectations of themselves and perpetuate myths about people being born naturally bad or good at maths.
Conversely, if you did well at maths in school, avoid jumping in with answers/solutions and instead encourage your child to talk about how they might work out maths problems as this helps boost their confidence.
Regardless of your own school experiences in maths, be reassured that maths today is not about learning by rote, with the focus instead on recognising that there are multiple ways to get an answer. Encourage your child to talk about the different strategies they might apply to the challenge/s chosen by your family.
Decide as a family if you would like to submit a recording of your participation in a challenge. Your submission can take the form of a video or some digital photos.
Talking maths - ideas for parents and carers
- After reading a challenge together, encourage your child to take the lead by asking her/him: 'What do
you think we are supposed to do?'
- Encourage your child to find links with what they already know. Ask questions like: 'What do
you know about this already?'
- If your child initially has difficulty understanding the challenge and says something like 'I don't get it' or 'I don't understand', prompt with further questions like 'What do you think the question is asking?'
- Try drawing a picture together; pictures and diagrams often help children to describe or even solve maths problems.
- Maintain a supportive role in the learning process by helping your child to recognise that they already may know parts of the solution.
- Reflect together on how you found the activity. Ask questions like, 'What was the best part of the challenge?' or 'What might we do differently next time?' Encourage your child to consider their own thinking process.
- Acknowledge great individual and team work!
Remember to maintain a supportive role in the learning process by helping your child to recognise that they already may know parts of the solution.
Take the Victorian Maths Challenge