The Importance of Parental Involvement in Children's Math Education

The Importance of Parental Involvement in Children's Math Education

Mathematics is a critical skill in today's world, yet many parents struggle to help their children with their homework. The @Home with Mathematics project will bridge this gap by empowering parents and caregivers with the skills and knowledge they need to support their children's learning. With funding support, the South African Mathematics Foundation can continue to connect communities and create a brighter future for our children.

Written by Prof Kerstin Jordaan, Executive Director, the South African Mathematics Foundation (SAMF)

On 1 June 2023, the world celebrates the United Nations (UN) observance called Global Day of Parents. The day aims to recognise mothers’ and fathers' roles in caring for and teaching their children. Research suggests that parents’ involvement in their children's mathematics education can improve their academic performance and success in later life.

Over the past 16 years, the South African Mathematics Foundation (SAMF) has been intently involved in four major areas: mathematics research, advocacy, learner development, and teacher empowerment. This year, the organisation is adding a new pillar to its portfolio - parental development.

The Foundation's new project will equip parents with the necessary mathematics skills to support their children's learning. The @Home with Mathematics project strives to connect communities in an innovative way by encouraging parents and caregivers to assist primary school learners with mathematics homework.

Apart from parents and caregivers, the project will include different role players, like the schools, their principals, teachers, the relevant representatives from the Department of Education (DBE) of the participating districts, student volunteers, and student teachers.

The Foundation plans to use the pilot phase to support a group of learners and to develop dedicated adult basic education and training (ABET) materials that they will register with the South African Qualification Authority (SAQA). Through participation in the @Home with Mathematics project, parents could gain a qualification recognised by the National Qualification Framework (NQF). In addition, the Foundation will contribute to the development of numeracy levels of adults in the target population, with evident gains for South African society.

For the Foundation to seriously consider achieving these aims, we need partners with passion. A passion that will make it happen. We need a single-minded focus from our fellow citizens who are in a position of authority to help us achieve this. The reality is that most of what we do costs money, and we all know that the income sources of government have enormous demands placed on them. Not all of us are mathematicians or even teachers. However, we can all add our effort, support, and enthusiasm to those who can use our contributions to multiply the next generation of mathematical leaders' depth and skill.

I invite you to join us in partnership to make this vision a reality. There are several opportunities for individuals and corporates to get involved. We see it as a unique opportunity to contribute in a concrete way to improving South Africa at a grassroots level. To find out how you can make a difference, send an email to Patrick Rasehwete, SAMF’s Engagement and Project Manager at [email protected].

You can also view our website to see how you can partner with us.


About Prof Kerstin Jordaan

Kerstin Jordaan holds a PhD in Mathematics from the University of the Witwatersrand (WITS). As an academic, her research interests are special functions, orthogonal polynomials and asymptotic analysis. Jordaan has published more than 45 research papers in high-quality, peer-reviewed, accredited international journals since 2003. She holds a Royal Society Newton Advanced Fellowship for her research and she is regularly invited to present plenary and invited talks at national and international conferences.

As an educator, her passion is to contribute positively to the improvements in South Africa's mathematics education. Jordaan is a Full Professor in the Department of Decision Sciences at the University of South Africa (UNISA). She researches mathematics and teaches undergraduate and postgraduate programmes in Financial Mathematics and Data Science.

In 2015 she became the first female President of the South African Mathematical Society (SAMS); in 2018 she was appointed executive director of the South African Mathematics Foundation (SAMF). Jordaan also holds academic leadership positions at several organisations, including the Department of Science and Innovation-National Research Foundation Centre of Excellence Mathematical and Statistical Sciences, National Research Foundation evaluation and rating panels and the National Graduate Academy in Mathematical and Statistical Sciences.

Jordaan is married with two adult sons. When she is not doing mathematics, she enjoys baking, reading, and spending time outdoors.

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