Homework that scares parents – and why it could make their kids poorer for life

A fifth of parents with children aged six to 16 avoid their child’s maths homework as working with numbers scares them, a survey has found.

Some 20% of parents feel this way about numeracy, according to the Open University Business School (OUBS)’s dedicated research centre and the True Potential Centre for the Public Understanding of Finance.

When they do give maths homework a go, 52% of parents admit they get it wrong, while 17% tell their children to ask their maths teacher for more help and do not get involved.

Nearly a third (29%) of parents say they struggle with maths homework aimed at children aged six to nine, while 28% say they can no longer help out with maths when their child goes to secondary school.

Martin Upton, director of the True Potential Centre for the Public Understanding of Finance at the Open University Business School, said: "Whilst it seems shocking that parents cannot help children as young as nine with their maths homework, arithmophobia or a fear of numeracy will have debilitating side-effects in so many other aspects of their everyday lives."

Many parents surveyed said they would not be able to pass on basic money skills to their child.

Adding and subtracting without a calculator is a skill one in four (24%) parents say they would not be able to pass on.

This is also the case when it comes to teaching children how to split a bill with friends in a restaurant (40%) or working out the best value items in the supermarket (45%).

More than half (52%) could not show their children how to find the best value gas and electricity services, while 62% would not know how to find the best mortgage.

Some 71% would not know how to find the most affordable loan in terms of interest charges and 66% could not help their child find the best credit card.

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OUBS has joined forces with University Challenge star Bobby Seagull to champion a financial education course designed for the needs of young people.

The Managing My Money for Young Adults course is funded by the Chartered Accountants’ Livery Company.

Each session contains video content featuring Seagull, who said: "Teaching everyday numeracy at home from an early age is essential."

More than 1,000 parents with children aged six to 16 were surveyed.

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