Parents and whānau have a role too

A student’s mathematical identity is influenced by the mathematical identities of their parents and whānau. It is not uncommon to hear parents say, “I didn’t like maths at school” or “I am hopeless at mathematics”. Parents who have no confidence with mathematics may not expect anything different of their children.

Talking to family members about their experiences of mathematics can provide useful information about home influences on a student’s mathematical identity. It’s important that parents recognise that how they see mathematics influences their child. Working with whānau to create new narratives about learning mathematics can support changed attitudes in the child. Actions 


  • Help parents to understand that everyone can become a powerful learner of mathematics. Encourage parents to help their children to stop thinking negatively about mathematics.
  • Talk to parents about “fixed” versus “growth” mindsets about ability. Encourage them to emphasise effort and progress, not ability.
  • Encourage parents to participate in their child’s learning of mathematics. Ease the way for parents to get involved by providing games and activities that parents and students can do together.

Back to Resource 1: Fostering positive mathematical identities