Ask Your Child About Math Today

The usual homework cycle goes like this: kid writes down a task or set of questions or worksheet to be done. Kid dutifully does (or doesn’t do) it. Teacher checks the homework the next. Repeat x 188 school days.

The kind of homework pictured above is my favourite kind of homework. I often get asked by parents, “what can I do to help my kid?” Talking about the math that happens at school is one thing that we all can do. Barriers will be broken down, then, and mathematics will no longer be confined between the classroom’s four walls.

I recently enjoyed John Stevens’ Table Talk Math book, which is all about normalizing and naturalizing math talk between parents and kids. We talk about all other aspects of life around the dinner table, so why not math? By not talking about math class, we risk making is something esoteric, something strange and outside our normal experiences. Subjects don’t, or shouldn’t, live in classrooms.

Mathematics is alive all around us. So if your kid is working on addition, take out some M&Ms and join them together. Deal two playing cards and make them add the numbers. That’s purposeful and meaningful practice, with nary a worksheet in sight.

I made my son count a huge stack of coins in order to get a fidget spinner. He was also working with money in class. I know that, because I asked him. They were counting by quarters, for example, so we also counted quarters. They were counting by nickels, so we took out a hundreds chart and put the nickels on the chart to help count.

If your child is working on patterns, make patterns together. If they are working on shapes, play with shapes. If they are working with fractions, play with fractions. (Better yet, bake a batch of cookies, and look at the fractions involved, and then eat the cookies!)

If your child is working on Pythagorean theorem…well in that case, you might have to relearn it, but that would be an interesting conversation too.

Math talk can be a normal and interesting part of life. Math is what parents and teachers make it. As parents, let’s make it a healthy and friendly part of our everyday lives.



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Matthew Oldridge

Matthew Oldridge

Writing about creativity, books, productivity, education, particularly mathematics, music, and whatever else “catches my mind”. ~Thinking about things~