I knew I loved to write long before I knew I loved mathematics. As a child I was a voracious reader, and dreamed of creating the same magic with my own pen.
Instead I became a math teacher.
I kept up a personal blog on the side, and my writing background served me well when I decided to earn a masters degree in math education, and then doctorate. Then followed a new career, and marriage, and a baby, and in the last few years my writing has mostly fallen to the wayside. Still, in the back of my mind I had a feeling that writing could still fit in my life, that there was some way I could merge my professional passions and my personal life in a way that would be useful and interesting to a wider audience than just my friends and family.
One night, when our son was still very young, I shared some of my thoughts about mathematics and parenting with my husband, Brian. I felt it was important for our son to get positive messages about mathematics from both of his parents, and for both of us to engage with him in mathematical thinking.
Brian, a trained opera singer who hadn’t taken a formal math class since his first semester of college, agreed that this was important, but expressed some concern. “What would talking mathematics with Monkey even look like?” he asked me. “I don’t think I would know where to begin.” Honestly, I didn’t have a good answer. Talking math felt intuitive to me, but that was because I was totally immersed in the world of mathematics learning. My husband, like so many other parents, is not.
Not long after that conversation I had a chance to give a 20-minute presentation to a group of mothers of young children. I focused my presentation on mathematical literacy for toddler-aged children, and when I rehearsed the Power Point with my husband he said, “That. That’s exactly what I was looking for.” The presentation was very well received. Several mothers told me that they very much wanted their children to have a good experience with mathematics, maybe a better one than they themselves had, but they knew very little about what they could do as parents, and that my presentation had given them a way to think about it. They felt excited to begin talking math with their kids.
That was the moment this blog was born.
There are many, many early literacy resources for parents. We know to talk to our children from the moment they are born, and to read to them. In fact, giving your children a strong foundation in literacy is one of the best things you can do to provide them with a strong foundation for mathematics. But some very literate adults can nevertheless remember struggling with mathematics, and I have found that many parents are looking for more. They want to actively help their children to feel excited about mathematics, and able, and empowered. These parents also want to feel empowered themselves when it comes to helping their children learn, understand, and enjoy mathematics. I created The Kids’ Quadrant to be a resource for these parents. For you!
The Kids’ Quadrant lies exactly at the intersection of my personal and professional life. I have a PhD in math education and a familiarity with and access to research on teaching mathematics to children. I teach, coordinate, and write curriculum for mathematics classes for future elementary teachers, which means I spend my career working to impress hearts and minds with an understanding of how children learn, perceive, and sometimes struggle with mathematics. And with my one-year-old son now at the cusp of language, I am deeply, personally invested in creating a natural and positive environment for him to explore the world of numbers and shapes and patterns.
I have much to share and much to learn, and this blog is my journey as well.