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Exploring the effectiveness of parent engagement in the teaching of foundation phase geometry.

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Learners need mathematics to fulfil academic and vocational dreams, to learn to think in a particular manner and to survive in a world where so many mathematics skills are prevalent. Learners show improvement when they understand the mathematics they are doing, and it is not merely seen as a set of rules. When you connect the dots meaningfully for the learners using diagrams, technology, physical objects, and everyday examples, they start to really understand and problem solve. However, in my experience, the one area where many learners were not showing significant improvement and seem to lack understanding, was geometry. This sparked a sincere interest in studying the cause of the geometry struggle and means of addressing it. The more I looked into it, the more research was pointing to the fact that geometry understanding has to start at a foundation level. You cannot expect learners to engage in complex geometric proofs involving difficult deductive reasoning when they do not know and understand the basics leading up to this. Thus, this master’s thesis explores the teaching of foundation phase geometry and how intervention can happen at the grass roots in order to see long term benefits. One of the essential ingredients in developing correct concept formation at foundation phase, is having access to hands on activities through adult-guided play. The reality in South Africa, is that the ratio of learners to teachers is too high to allow this to happen in a meaningful way in the classroom. Too little time is assigned to geometry in the foundation phase curriculum as more important numeracy concepts and learning to read and write, are prioritized. However, lockdown brought to the foreground, the important role that parents can play in improving the education of children. Although not all parents were effective teachers, surprisingly, many very effective in assisting in the educational process of their child when asked to do so. This study therefore looks at parents’ input as an interventive means of assisting in the process of teaching foundation phase geometry. Although we all know the ideal solution is a highly qualified teacher in a small classroom with all the necessary resources, this is only a reality for about 3% of the South African population. This study is seeking intervention for the other 97% who do not have the privilege of the ideal. This study was a case study using qualitative methodology. Video analysis of one-on-one time with parents and their children was used to analyse the effectiveness of parent involvement. Teacher interviews were used to assess how space and shape is currently being taught and parent questionnaires were used to gather data on how parents felt about being involved in helping their child with space and shape learning. This study showed that through simple communication with parents, regardless of what socio-economic background they came from, effective activities can be designed to bring about meaningful scaffolding in geometry learning. Although video-analysis revealed very positive findings, parents felt that many other parents would not help their own children due to circumstantial constraints.


Masters Degree. University of KwaZulu-Natal, Durban.