“I was never good at math”
“Ugh! I hate this NEW Common Core math”
“This was NOT the way we did math as a kid.”
As teacher and a tutor, these were common phrases I heard uttered by parents, in front of their children. Although it’s well meaning and meant to support a struggling child, it does more harm than we realize.
Just like with anything in life, we don’t want to pass our fears onto our children; same goes for academics. You may not have been “good” at math but that isn’t the reason your child is falling behind in math class.
I will admit, growing up math wasn’t my strong suit but I managed good grades (lots of studying, laboring and stress involved). It wasn’t until college, when I took a Teaching Mathematics course did all my fears and anxieties over math slowly dissipate. It tackled HOW we teach math, different strategies and a rethinking of how we implement mathematics in the classroom. I had a “if only they had taught it to me this way” moment and suddenly it all made sense.
Although I went on to teach literature and writing, math eventually became my “thing” as a private tutor. The majority of students I worked with needed help in math and subsequently, I knew the 6th, 7th and 8th grade math curriculum like the back of my hand. Even better, because of my previous insecurities in math, I was able to connect with my students and find that ONE particular way to help a math concept stick.
Tonight while scrolling Facebook (my husband is out of town and it’s been a long week), I stumbled upon this article by Mighty Girl and I felt compelled to share. I see this problem with both boys AND girls.
The author states, “And while well-meaning adults may think they’re encouraging kids by sharing their own math fears, research has shown the opposite — “Anxiety over mathematics has been recognized as a grade killer.”
The article continues, saying as parents we need to start “normalizing math at home in a way that’s relaxed and playful.”
Just like we read books at night, why not integrate some math games at home or even read some fun math books?
I suggest the Greg Tang Math books and games. My son Soren loves these and even his sisters enjoy playing with him. It’s an amazing resource, with numerous products aimed at making math fun, while helping your child develop important math skills and strong math foundation.
So let’s STOP the negative math talk and encourage our kids to find strategies and solutions that work for them.