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Why Social Learning?

the multiples plateSocial learning theory is a perspective that states that people learn within a social context. People, especially children, learn from the environment and seek acceptance from society by learning through influential models.

And of course, where else but the home has a large impact on a child’s early development, social behavior and habits? So it should come to no surprise that, indeed, the social environment affects a child’s future success in education. We have known for years thru studies the positive effect reading to children has on their literacy skills.  But, mathematics has seemingly been ignored until recently. 

Published in 2012, the latest “Trends in In International Maths and Study” (TIMMS) concludes that parents play an extremely important role when it comes to achievement in Math. In their opening summary to Chapter 4, page 173, entitled: Home Environment Support for Mathematics Achievement, the highly respected report concludes: 

“The importance of an early start in school was related to higher mathematics achievement in TIMSS 2011. Fourth grade students had higher mathematics achievement if their parents reported that they often engaged in early numeracy activities with their children, that their children attended preschool, and that they started school able to do early numeracy tasks.

Home resources for learning and high expectation were related to higher average achievement at the fourth and eighth grades.

The report has the following observation in Chapter 4, page 195: 

"Internationally, across the countries at the fourth grade, 49 percent of the students had parents that “Often” engaged them in early numeracy activities, and an additional 45 percent had parents that “Sometimes” engaged them in early numeracy activities.

The fourth grade students whose parents “Often” engaged them had higher average achievement than the students whose parents only “Sometimes” engaged them in numeracy activities.

In several countries, a small percentage of students had parents who “rarely” did any of the numeracy activities with them, and these students typically had low average mathematics achievement.

Parents need to know these facts. They need to know they can make a difference regardless of budget or time restraints. They need to know that little things can make all the difference. 

Little things like simply encouraging your children to learn. To ask questions. To listen in class. Little things like saying 'you can do it'.

The report states on page 194, paragraph 3:

“A composite variable of seven home activities – being read to, going to the library, playing with numbers, painting and drawing, being taught letters, being taught numbers, and songs/poems/rhymes - had greater predictive power for literacy and numeracy achievement than any other variables studied, including socio-economic status, parents’ education, and household income”

Creating a can-do culture of aspiration and hope is the implicit starting point to an early education.

The aim is to nudge your child into being confident in being curious, into talking about things, into asking questions, into believing that anything is possible in this still largely unknown, and as Professor ONE Hoot from Berlin often says, “this astonishingly magical universe in which we live”.


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