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Math is Everywhere!

Our language around math matters!

How many times have you heard people say “I’m not good at math”?

Perhaps you’ve said it yourself. Often people make the statement with pride, almost implying it’s “cool” to be bad at math.  Imagine if the same number of people claimed “I’m not good at reading”! (The Conversation January 17, 2016)

 

Parents are important partners in education.

Fostering a joy of learning and a belief in your child’s ability to learn is key to setting a foundation for learning success.  This is especially true in the area of math where we often hear people indicating that they have fears of math or that they are not math people. Ensuring positive language around your own math abilities is essential and the first important step.

An article in USA Today speaks to “tossing out those negative misconceptions we’ve cultivated that we’re not good at math” and the author describes three misconceptions that create barriers to math learning: USA Today July 9, 2014

Misconception #1: Math ability is a gift — you either have it or you don't. The reality is everyone has the potential to be good at math. The brain can grow and adapt - we can actually grow our "math brains" through hard work and effort.

Misconception #2: Being good at math is about being fast. In fact, emphasis on speed can lead to increased anxiety and "brain freeze." University of Chicago psychologists have found that this anxiety can impede problem solving. "Brain freeze" is real, and math anxiety can induce it. When we emphasize speed only we send the incorrect message that all problems should be solved quickly, which hurts kids' persistence on more complicated tasks.

Misconception #3: Math is all about "rules" and procedures. Of course, math facts and computations are important. Actually, math is much more than that. Math is about making sense of problems and understanding why particular strategies work. Math is not about the "one right way" to solve a problem. Rather, it's about the multiple ways to see and solve problems.

 

In considering these misconceptions, and how to create a positive mindset about math, look for opportunities to bring math into daily conversations and simple activities.  Math is all around us! 

  • Kilometers per hour and how long it will take to get somewhere
  • Counting and sorting – count and sort as many things as you can
  • While shopping – which costs less per unit?, how much do we need to buy?
  • Baking and cooking – fractions, reasoning, measuring
  • Birthday parties – if we add two more children, how many will we have in total?
  • I see two deer on the right and four deer on the left side of the road, how many deer in total?
  • Play board games that use money or dice or cards
  • Do puzzles
  • Plan a garden or paint a room

 

Developing a positive math attitude is essential in supporting math learning success at school.  Just like developing a daily reading habit, developing a mind set of looking for opportunities to use math language and encourage regular application of numeracy skills is essential.

… and the most important first step is speaking positively about your own math abilities – we are all math people!

 

Sources and further reading: