Recently the New York Times magazine published an article on the recent history of math education in the U.S., written by Elizabeth Green. It’s a fantastic read for anyone who is at all invested in the education of children (which, of course, includes all parents!). I highly recommend it, and I’m looking forward to reading her new book, Building a Better Teacher.
But the article, while very readable, is also quite long. As a parent, and a parent who loves to read, I still may not have made it through if it wasn’t exactly up my alley. So if you’re looking for something shorter and directly relevant to how you interact with your kids around math, I’d like to point you to Elizabeth Green’s accompanying blog post on the New York Times parenting blog, Motherlode: 5 Ways To Help Your Kid Not Stink At Math. It contains excellent advice, and it’s solid – these are things that really work, no matter what math curriculum your child might be using.
While all 5 of her main points are good, my favorite is the first:
1. Listen to What’s Going Wrong
Teaching children math requires first figuring out what they don’t understand. Instead of getting to the heart of a misunderstanding, we are far more likely to tell children something like, “No, that’s not right, try it this way instead.” The better response to a wrong answer begins with asking the child to explain her thinking.
You’ll hear this from me over and over again, but the very best thing you can do to help your child, whether you’re encouraging a preschooler’s interest in numbers, or helping a high schooler with their math homework, is to make an effort to find out what they’re thinking.
Click over and take a look. And if you have other resources (books, articles – anything!) that have helped you as a parent to help your child with math, please share!