A Division of Learning Skills Research Foundation


The Maths Anxiety Trust aims to eliminate anxiety about Maths

Guide for Parents of Primary School Children

Maths might be the most important subject your child learns. Experts now realise that millions of adults and children don’t manage maths as well as they could.  They’ve discovered that a lot of us suffer from maths anxiety. Because we don’t feel comfortable about maths, we don’t learn it as easily as we might. Teachers, schools and researchers are finding out how parents can help children manage maths better.

There are at least 7 things you can do to support your children. You can help by:

1. Talking about how useful maths is and why we need it.
2. Taking time to show that maths can be fun.
3. Using toys, puzzles, blocks, coins, shapes and fingers to explore maths in practical ways.
4. Helping your child to develop routines so that they learn to manage their own time.
5. Encouraging your child to tell you, their friends and teachers, how they think when they are working out maths problems.
6. Treating mistakes as learning points.
7. Encouraging them to keep trying. Our abilities are not fixed: we are not born good or bad at maths and we can get better by being brave.

Underneath each section below is a link to where you can find more detailed information.

Why we need maths
Maths is a key skill for grownup life: paying bills, managing money, being able to guess what things cost over time. Tell your child about how you use it in your everyday life. Encourage them to think you are confident about it.
Maths Careers

Take time to show maths is fun

Play games with your child by asking them to guess how much treats cost; how old people are; how many times certain things happen. Play with different shapes and
talk about what they are called and how they fit together. Find enjoyable ways of practising times tables. Use coins, blocks and fingers to help your child see what numbers look like.
National Numeracy - Family Maths Toolkit

Get your child to talk about working things out

Teachers have found out that children get better at maths when they talk to each other about how they solve problems. They are more successful when they realise
there are different ways of doing this, and that no one way is right. Encourage your child to talk to classmates and teachers about their thinking in maths.
Education Endowment Foundation - Early Maths

Encourage your child to build routines

Children who have set times to do homework or practise their learning do better.  Help your child get used to organising their own learning. Try not to actually help your child do homework, but to ensure that they have spent time trying it. Perhaps encourage them to do one mathematical challenge a week.
Education Endowment Foundation - Working with parents to support childrens' learning

Tell your child that if they can’t do something yet they should keep trying

No one is born unable to do maths.  That ability comes with believing you can do it. It comes with being ready to ask when you don’t understand. It comes with help with practising, and with talking about it. Let them know that getting things wrong helps them learn; correcting mistakes makes us better. This is part of what we call a
growth mindset.
www.mindsetworks.com/parents/growth-mindset parenting

Please talk to your child’s teacher about their learning in maths.  Highlighting issues or difficulties will strengthen the teaching.

Compiled by Dr Ann Murray-Hudson
Former Head teacher of Central Foundation School for Girls and Langley Park School for Girls from 2005-2018


Maths Anxiety Coping Strategies Guide

Does your child get anxious before a maths lesson? Do they struggle over their maths homework? Have you noticed them fret when there’s a maths exam?

This free booklet has been commissioned by Maths Anxiety Trust and written by Helen Whitten a cognitive behavioural coach who presents techniques to overcome the negative effect of this condition.

The Maths Anxiety Trust © 2024