Feb 05, 2019

Your children can help change your mathematics mindset

Regardless of whether you loved or hated math as a student, as a caregiver or parent today, math educators see you as an integral and necessary part of growing a child’s mathematical understanding.

When caregivers support their students’ mathematical development at home, it has a great impact in the classroom. But the way math is taught in today’s classrooms, in some cases, is radically different from what we experienced when we were students. Parents might feel frustrated that ‘the way I learned how to do math’ is different from what their students are learning.

Here’s why it’s different.

Classrooms are moving away from the days when teachers were the “sage on the stage.” Gone are the days when teachers showed students exactly what to do, teaching mathematics through a set of isolated rules and tricks, and expecting students to replicate those procedures without fail.

Math educators today prioritize conceptual understanding- which means they not only want students to compute, but they want them to understand why those computations work. Instead of seeing mathematics as a set of isolated rules, teachers want them to understand that it’s a beautiful set of interconnected patterns.

But this philosophical change means that parents and caregivers must also be prepared to adjust their own thinking about math. Today’s students are being challenged to think more deeply, beyond rote memorization, and tasked with understanding what it is they’re trying to accomplish.

Today’s math instruction is a based on world experiences, rich learning, and engagement. And you can help by following some simple advice as outlined by Jo Boaler (2018), a leading researcher on mindset and mathematics. (Access her tips and suggestions for parents by clicking this link.)

Don’t let the ways of the past present a barrier for you when it comes time to support mathematics instruction. Your student has a great opportunity for deep and rich learning of mathematics, and you just might come to appreciate it as well.