Numeracy Update – December 2018

Numeracy Update – December 2018


Advice for Parents in Math, from Professor Jo Boaler, Standford University

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Do you remember how excited your children were about math when they were young? How they were excited by patterns in nature? How they rearranged a set of objects and found, with delight, that they had the same number? Before children start school they often talk about math with curiosity and wonder, but soon after they start school many children decide that math is confusing and scary and they are not a “math person”. This is because math in many schools is all about procedures, memorization and deciding which children can and which cannot. Math has become a performance subject and students of all ages are more likely to tell you that math is all about answering questions correctly than tell you about the beauty of the subject or the way it piques their interest. What can parents do to transform math for their children? Here are some steps to take:

  1. Encourage children to play math puzzles and games. Puzzles and games – anything with a dice really – will help kids enjoy math, and develop number sense, which is critically important.
  2. Always be encouraging and never tell kids they are wrong when they are working on math problems. Instead find the logic in their thinking.
  3. Never associate math with speed. It is not important to work quickly, and we now know that forcing kids to work quickly on math is the best way to start math anxiety for children, especially girls. Don’t use fashcards or other speed drills.
  4. Never share with your children the idea that you were bad at math at school or you dislike it.
  5. Encourage number sense – having an idea of the size of numbers and being able to separate and combine numbers flexibly.
  6. Perhaps most important of all – encourage a “growth mindset” let students know that they have unlimited math potential and that being good at math is all about working hard.