In last week's post Gretchen shared ideas about how to help foster reading at home. The experience in my home dovetails nicely with her focus on reading. My kid loves to read, but math is not her thing. She's good at it, but she'd rather spend time writing stories or reading. I was the same way. That doesn't bother me or really concern me as a parent.
What is troublesome is the negative talk that has crept slowly into our home. She declares "I hate math" or "I'm not good at math." I've done all the things the experts have told me to do: Talk about how much I love math. Focus on finding math in every day life (I could do better at that). Talk about how I'm good at math and she's good at math. But it isn't working. So I've done a dive into ideas for help. So here's a Take 5 with a math focus for teachers and parents alike. It's messy. Just as with real math, there is not just one method to answer the problem; but the more you know, hopefully the more you can help your own kid or the kids in your classroom.
This piece entitled Make Your Daughter Practice Math She'll Thank you Later, by engineer, Barbara Oakley, should be read by every educator. And if you are a parent, you should read it, right now. It's an interesting perspective and my favorite education article of 2018. It speaks to me as a teacher, as a mother, and as a girl who remembers these exact same feelings. I read it aloud to my own kid. She didn't like what it said (because she said it didn't solve her problems)-- but when we practice math, she'll know why.
'Not a Math Person': How to Remove Obstacles to Learning Math argues against rote memorization, offering an opposing view to that of Barbara Oakley. I am not sure I agree with the author on all counts (I believe math facts matter), but I value the article nonetheless. The take away for me, speed in math isn't indicative of math ability and yet that's the message we send kids constantly in classrooms (and often at home).
In To Up Students' Math Ability, Try Working on their Teachers' Growth Mindset, Sarah Schwartz examines the connection between teacher beliefs and practices and student performance. The same must be true for parents. If you are a parent and don't know growth mindset, you should and teachers, we need to share growth mindset with parents. Because GenXers weren't raised on that. Believe me.
This is why it's so hard to help with your kids math homework explores the frustration that many parents now experience when trying to help their kids complete math assignments at home. I'll own it. I am one of them!
In the Atlantic's Math Class Paradox, by Jo Boaler, talks about the need to give kids more open ended math problems to solve, using classroom time to focus on process. My thought, when providing practice at home, why not do the same? You can visit her website, YouCubed, where there are lots of resources, many of them free.
What strategies do you use to help your student or students feel confident and excited about math?
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