While working on a recent math assignment, Sugar Plum had one of those math moments. Do you know what I’m talking about? Do you or your children ever have those math moments? In our house, such moments are often accompanied by tears, frustration, and angry outbursts. Who knew numbers could cause such grief?
Because homeschool math can sometimes be an unpleasant subject for children and parents alike, I’ve designed a series to help homeschool families deal with a few common math dilemmas we’ve experienced. This series, Improving Homeschool Math, will address four areas of concern and feature tips to help homeschool parents help their children cope with math challenges.
Today’s post is about the common math myths. When homeschool families embrace these myths and view them as truth, problems can arise. Believing these myths affects both the way we teach our children and the way our children learn. However, debunking these myths can help homeschool families experience more peaceful and productive math time. I’m sharing and debunking four myths we’ve had to address here in our homeschool.
Myth #1: Math is boring.
Many children pick up this faulty notion at an early age and carry it into adulthood. Unfortunately, the continued use of old school teaching techniques and dull math books have kept this myth alive. In addition (no pun intended), some parents, including me, have taught lackluster lessons out of necessity, failing to recognize that math can be both fun and interesting.
For some children, math may never become as exciting to them as creating a messy masterpiece during art or performing a lively science experiment outside, but you can shatter this myth. Fun math extensions including math games and activities can pique your child’s interest and breathe new life into your teaching techniques. You can also make use of math manipulatives during lessons and introduce your children to math based hobbies that allow them to have fun while learning.
Myth #2: Math isn’t really needed in every day life.
While it’s true the average American can live an entire day without needing to isolate a variable, write a proof, or place decimals in descending order, it’s important for our children to see that math skills are an essential part of every day life. Strategies such as estimation, rounding, measurement, and problem solving show up in everyday interaction.
You can bust this myth by bringing your child’s attention to every day instances where math is used. Note it’s importance as you double a chocolate chip cookie recipe, talk about how math is used as you plan your summer square foot garden, or point out math applications as you shop for groceries using the weekly budget.
Myth #3: There is only one “right” way solve a math problem.
As children work through their math lessons, it’s not unusual to find the publisher presents them with a single way to solve a problem. When children see this, they may mistakenly conclude there is only one way to solve a problem. It then becomes harder for them to think outside the box.
You can easily disprove this myth. When your child is presented with a math problem, solve it using the method presented in the book, but then seek alternate solutions. I have found that knowing alternate solutions lessens my children’s worries about getting the problem right. This is because they understand there are multiple options for solving. Multiple solutions also give my children multiple ways to check to see if a problem has been correctly solved. Plus, this allows them to solve problems using their unique learning style.
Myth #4: Speed is what matters in math.
Like me, many of my homeschool peers spent hours in a traditional classroom where math drills were the norm. The teacher would set a timer and some of my classmates would nearly go into cardiac arrest rushing to accurately complete all the problems within two minutes. Others would be discouraged even before beginning the test. Don’t let your child embrace the “first is best” philosophy.
Break down this myth immediately. Teach your child that the process in finding an answer is valuable and often takes time. Let your child know it’s okay to take the time to determine a solution. Give your child lots of opportunities to practice math facts, etc in a relaxed environment. Frequent but relaxed exposure can help children gain the fluency that will lead to speed. In addition to the math text, use games and fun activities to help children learn.
Math myths like the ones I discussed can become an educational stumbling block for our children. We need to debunk those myths right away so our children can enjoy math and find success in it. The next time your child offers up one of these weak math myths, you’ll be ready to counteract with an effective strategy!
Join me for the next post in this series, Responding to Math Mistakes.
© 2015, Andrea Thorpe. All rights reserved.