Here is an article from Jo Boaler who is a Stanford Professor of Mathematics Education, Online Course Experimenter, Co-Founder of ‘youcubed’, author of the new book: Mathematical Mindsets.



We now know that the messages we give students can change their performance dramatically, and that students need to know that the adults in their lives believe in them.  Researchers are learning that students’ ideas about their ability and potential are extremely important, much more than previously understood.  As well as the messages we give students about their potential, brain research is now showing that messages students pick up from their parents about math and their parents’ relationships with math can also change students’ math learning and achievement.

parent photo

In an important study researchers found that when mothers told their daughters they were not good at math in school, their daughter’s achievement declined almost immediately (Eccles & Jacobs, 1986). In a new study neuroscientists Erin Maloney and colleagues found that parents’ math anxiety reduced their children’s learning of math across grades 1 and 2, but only if parents helped their children on math homework (Maloney, Ramirez, Gunderson, Levine, & Beilock, 2015) If they did not help them on homework, the parents’ math anxiety did not detract from their children’s learning.

The parents’ math knowledge did not turn out to have any impact, only their level of math anxiety.

Both studies, again, communicate the importance of the messages students receive, as it was not math knowledge that harmed the students’ performance but the parents’ anxiety. We do not know what parents with math anxiety say to their children but it is likely they communicate the negative messages we know to be harmful, such as “math is hard” or “I was never good at math in school.” It is critical that when parents interact with children about math they communicate positive messages, saying that math is exciting and it is an open subject that anyone can learn with hard work, that it is not about being “smart” or not and that math is all around us in the world. For more parental advice on ways to help students with math see the parent page.

Teachers also need to give positive messages to students at all times. Many elementary teachers feel anxious about mathematics, usually because they themselves have been given fixed and stereotyped messages about the subject and their potential. When I taught in my online teacher/parent class that mathematics is a multidimensional subject that everyone can learn, many of the elementary teachers who took it described it as life-changing and approached mathematics differently afterward. Around 85% of elementary teachers in the United States are women, and Beilock, Gunderson, Ramirez, & Levine (2009) found something very interesting and important. The researchers found that the levels of anxiety held by women elementary teachers also predicted the achievement of the girls in their classes, but not the boys (Beilock et al., 2009). Girls look up to their female teachers and identify with them at the same time as teachers are often and sadly conveying the idea that math is hard for them or they are just not a “math person.” Many teachers try to be comforting and sympathetic about math, telling girls not to worry, that they can do well in other subjects. We now know such messages are extremely damaging.

Teachers and parents need to replace sympathetic messages such as “Don’t worry, math isn’t your thing” with positive messages such as “You can do this, I believe in you, math is an open, beautiful subject that is all about effort and hard work.”

If you are interested in reading more why not try the youcubed website under the parents tab. See below,

Games to support maths – Have fun St. John’s!

Try this recruits!

Addition and subtraction but with a difference (Year 4-6)

Liked it? Want more like that? Try

Year 1-3 why not try this….

More like this…


Have Fun!


Supporting your child with maths can sometimes be a bit tricky. Methods that teachers are using in the classroom now can look very different to they way we parents learnt maths when we were at school. Sometimes parents worry that they may confuse their child if they try to teach their child at home especially if they are aware that teaching methods have changed. Being willing to have a go with a positive attitude is the first step! It’s not unusual to hear parents say, ” Oh, I was hopeless at maths when I was at school.” Perhaps the methods that were used to teach us when we were young just simply didn’t help us understand as well as they could have. Perhaps we had the potential to be good at maths but that potential never came to full fruition leaving many of us feeling like we never really got there in the end. With our child at school we have a chance to revisit maths through their experiences and many parents tell me that they are surprised at how when listening to their child and working alongside them, they finally get it all these years later.

If you are interested in being involved with your own child’s mathematical journey and perhaps revisiting the things that you loved or never really grasped, then you might like to look at the website below. Simple copy and paste into your browser. It has a wealth of ideas and videos, games and activities for you to explore as parents and with your child.

Good luck everyone! Have a happy and restful half term break.

Welcome to the Canterbury Students

On Tuesday and Wednesday of last week we welcomed our students. They will be gaining their experiences in Class 1, Class 2, Class 4C and Class 6 initially. They are aiming to become maths specialists in the future and are at the beginning of their journey to become teachers. After just 4 weeks at Canterbury University, they are placed in schools with a good reputation for maths, to learn from excellent classroom practitioners.

We welcome them again next Tuesday and Wednesday before they settle into a weekly Tuesday routine.

It was pleasing to see how eager they are to learn and how well received they were by our fabulous staff. It is exciting to part of their training and help to grow a new generation of teachers.

Maths straight from Shanghai

This week, Sam Temp and I visited St. Matthews in High Brooms as part of our work in the Teacher Research Group (TRG). We were extremely lucky to observe a Year 3 maths lesson which had been brought from China to Britain by Debbie Morgan (Professional lead at the NCETM) when she visited Shanghai to observe the teaching of maths. She adapted the lesson for the British classroom and the result was an amazing lesson on fractions. It involved maps, journeys, swans, kittens and shapes. Not once was the word fraction mentioned, nor denominator, nor numerator, nor half or quarter. It was real food for thought. Thank you to the brave Year 3 teacher who taught so well so the 16 of us could observe!!!!

Want to practise your mental maths?

In Class 4P we have been using a website called Top Marks to practise multiplication facts (times tables) . We played ‘Hit the Button’ and had such good fun! The children asked me to write this down for them as they liked it so much they wanted to practise at home!

Great work Year 4P.

Here’s the link, have fun!

Exciting project comes to St. John’s

Back in May I applied for St. John’s to be part of a Teacher Research Group (TRG) with the Kent and Medway maths hub. The aim is to support schools in their development of maths teaching.

In July, we found out that we were successful and last week it all began! Sam Temp and I met with our TRG leader, Rosemary – a lovely teacher from St Matthew’s in High Brooms- to evaluate where we are as a school and how we can incorporate maths mastery principles further in our teaching. It was a productive meeting and we are very excited to have this opportunity to develop practice and to be at the cutting edge of latest research developments.

In two weeks, Sam and I are off to St. Matthew’s to meet the other six schools involved in the project and watch a teacher delivering a lesson after which we will discuss mastery principles in action and how we can take this back to our own school.

I will keep you updated on our progress.

Jane Gillhouley

Want to know more about maths hubs? Copy and paste the web address below.

Maths news!

Maths has started with a leap and a bound in all our classes at St. John’s. The children have been working hard on place value and understanding that the value of a number depends on where the digits are placed.

If we have the digits 3, 4, 7, 9. What is the biggest number we could make? How do we know it is the biggest? We explore questions like,

True or False

9743 is smaller than 9347.

Tell me how you know.


Well done St. John’s. Keeeeeeeeeeep calculating!


Maths, maths maths!

Well what a week it has been for maths at St John’s. Wednesday morning saw 60 parents attend the maths meeting that Sam Temp and I facilitated. It was a very successful meeting and we would like to thank you for such useful and positive feedback. The parent help sheet and the slides of the presentation are available on the website if you were unable to attend. I would like to thank all the staff and children who demonstrated so successfully the way we teach and learn maths. You were fab-u-lous!

Later that day, I set off to Chevening School to co-facilitate maths training for teaching assistants, with their Assistant Head teacher, Vicky. The teaching assistants from Chevening and St John’s worked together on two key concepts: partitioning and bridging through 10. We created maths on a broomstick and all went away with ideas for developing maths in our own school.

Tomorrow I will be heading off to Joseph Williamson Mathematical School in Rochester for my first day on a Primary Development maths course with the Kent maths hubs. How exciting! Watch this space.

Jane Gillhouley