As a parent, you have an important influence on your child’s attitude toward math and how he/she approaches learning math. By playing with your child and including him/her in activities that involve math, you can support an appreciation of math and communicate the importance and value of math in everyday life. A goal of involving your child in everyday activities is to develop foundational skills for learning mathematics to become a problem solver, to communicate mathematically and to foster mathematical reasoning ability.
The U.S. Department of Education has developed a booklet entitled “Helping Your Child Learn Mathematics”. This resource offers several activities that you can do with your child along with guidance on how to encourage your child’s learning of various math concepts through these activities. As you do math together with your child, remember to keep the interactions positive and model a problem-solving approach.
This excerpt from the guide offers insights about how to approach math that will help your child develop confidence in math ability.
1. Problems can be solved in different ways. Learning math is more than finding the correct answer, it’s also a process of solving problems and applying what you’ve learned to new problems.
2. Wrong answers sometimes can be useful. Accuracy is always important in math. However, analyzing wrong answers can help your child to understand the concepts underlying the problem and learn to apply reasoning skills to arrive at the correct answer.
3. Take risks! Help your child to be a risk taker and to see the value of trying to solve a problem, even if it’s difficult.
4. Being able to do mathematics in your head is important. Doing math “in your head” (mental math) is a valuable skill that comes in handy. Let your child know that by using mental math, his/her math skills will become stronger.
5. It’s sometimes OK to use a calculator to solve mathematics problems.Calculators are widely used today and knowing how to use them correctly is important. The idea is for your child not to fall back on the excuse, “I don’t need to know math-I’ve got a calculator.” Let your child know that to use calculators correctly and most efficiently, he/she will need a strong grounding in math operations- otherwise how will she know whether the answer he/she sees displayed is reasonable!
Visit the link to obtain the complete guide, “Helping Your Child Learn Mathematics” which contains ideas and activities that you can do with your child to encourage interest and learning in math.
The DREME Network (Development and Research in Early Math Education) at Stanford University works to produce and disseminate resources and knowledge that parents can use to promote math learning among young children. While there are various resources for parents on the DREME Network website, this link will connect you to a page that discusses why number talk is important and how parents can make the most of their number talk, helping support children’s math learning at home and in school.