You Learned Math Incorrectly; Do You Want Your Children To Do The Same?

Apr 22, 2024 5:18:16 PM


Many parents want to teach their kids math the same way they learned math; the problem is that the way they learned math didn’t prepare them for the technical future they found themselves in as adults seeking careers that would provide a living wage.

The older methods often emphasized rote memorization and procedural learning without fostering a deeper understanding of mathematical concepts or their applications in real-world scenarios. This educational gap left many individuals ill-prepared for the demands of modern careers in STEM fields, highlighting the need for a shift toward more comprehensive and conceptual mathematics education.

This is where Common Core comes in. The primary objective of Common Core was never to introduce entirely new mathematical concepts; rather, it was to transform the way these concepts were taught and understood.

Navigating this new educational landscape may seem daunting for parents. Unlike educators, parents don't always have immediate access to professional development resources designed to ease the transition to new teaching standards.

However, they play an equally crucial role in their children's education, especially under the Common Core framework, which emphasizes conceptual understanding and critical thinking. To support their children effectively, parents must leverage the resources available, sometimes creatively and proactively. Here are some suggestions:

Fostering Positive Mathematical Mindsets

An often overlooked but crucial aspect of supporting children's education is the development of a positive mathematical mindset.

Research has consistently shown that attitudes towards math significantly influence students' ability to learn and excel. Negative perceptions of math, often inadvertently passed down from parents to children, can hinder a child's confidence and willingness to engage with mathematical concepts.

Thus, parents need to be mindful of their messages about math and focus on fostering a positive and encouraging learning environment.

Engaging in Fun Math Activities at Home

Incorporating math into fun, everyday activities can significantly enhance children's mathematical mindsets. This approach aligns with the Common Core's emphasis on understanding and applying mathematical concepts in real-world contexts. Here are a few suggestions for math-centric activities that parents can enjoy with their children:

  • Cooking and Baking: These activities have mathematical learning opportunities, from measuring ingredients to scaling recipes. Discussing measurements, fractions, and proportions during cooking can provide practical and enjoyable math lessons.
  • Shopping on a Budget: Involve children in planning a shopping trip with a fixed budget. This activity can teach them about addition, subtraction, and the value of money, encouraging them to make cost-effective decisions.
  • Board Games and Puzzles: Many board games and puzzles require strategic thinking, pattern recognition, and problem-solving skills. Some games don’t require buying anything. These fun activities can foster a love for mathematics and analytical thinking in a relaxed setting.
  • Nature Walks: Walking in nature can also be an opportunity to explore mathematical concepts. Parents and children can discuss natural patterns, count types of birds or leaves, or even calculate distances covered during the walk.

One of the most accessible resources for parents is the multitude of online platforms offering tutorials, practice exercises, and explanatory content tailored to Common Core standards. Programs like offer high-quality educational materials to help parents understand their children's new math concepts.

Parents should also consider establishing a strong line of communication with their children's teachers. By doing so, they can gain insights into the curriculum, understand the pedagogical approaches employed, and learn about the specific areas where their child might need extra support. Teachers can often recommend resources or strategies parents can use at home, fostering a collaborative effort to support the child’s education.

Creating a Supportive Learning Environment at Home

Beyond academic support, parents can encourage a culture of curiosity and learning within the home. This involves asking open-ended questions about what the child learned in school, enabling them to explain their reasoning, and discussing real-world applications of mathematical concepts. Such an environment reinforces the school curriculum and helps children appreciate the value of what they are learning.

Parents can play a pivotal role in developing their children's mathematical mindsets by adopting a positive outlook on math and integrating it into enjoyable family activities.

This approach supports their learning under the Common Core standards and prepares them for a future where they can approach mathematical challenges with confidence and curiosity. Creating a home environment where math is viewed as a valuable and engaging part of everyday life is crucial in nurturing the next generation of problem-solvers and critical thinkers.

In the case of the Common Core Math Standards, “new” means better. Don’t allow your children to fear mathematics any more than you’d want them to fear reading. Math is a beautiful language of the universe that all can learn.

Dr. Assata Moore

Assata Moore is educator and author who advocates for educating young Black children, using math as the driving force. She believes in the supreme intelligence of Black children because she has seen it time and time again. As a teacher and principal, she traveled the world teaching other teachers how to teach Mathematics, physics, and engineering in a fun and engaging way; effective leadership; and systems and strategies for running a successful school. She has a Mathematics degree from Michigan State University where she also served as the program coordinator. In 2009, she was voted one of the top Mathematics teachers in the state of Illinois and, under the Obama Administration, Assata received the Presidential Award for Excellence in Mathematics and Science Teaching. In 2015, under the direction of Michelle Obama, she revisited the White House for a college conference initiative. Her workshops and speaking engagements are what she calls, “EduAction”. You will be educated and you will put that learning into action.

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