With the recent introduction of Ontario’s new math curriculum, comes the inclusion of the strand social-emotional learning. According to Ministry of Education documents, this means teaching students the strategies to “develop confidence, cope with challenges and think critically.” Building mathematics confidence will help to overcome feelings such as confusion, frustration, anger and hopelessness that are common feelings encountered by students when doing math. Some students associate math with the fear of failure or displeasing their parents or teacher. All of these emotions and fears lead to the widespread phenomenon known as ‘math-anxiety’, which impacts the student’s ability to perform to the best of their ability.
Leading mathematics education experts Dr Calvin Irons and James Burnett, who developed ORIGO Education’s GO Maths and Stepping Stones, share their five tips to help parents alleviate and overcome their child’s anxiety with mathematics.
- Get your children talking about the mathematics they do at school and at home.
Show a genuine interest. Encourage them to use their own language to describe mathematical situations. Precise mathematical language will develop over time.
- Yes! The way we teach mathematics has changed, so do not create confusion for your children by showing them the way you learned mathematics.
Today’s approach fosters understanding of mathematics. Yesteryear’s approach relied on memorization of procedures, which we did not understand.
- Get them doing mathematics in their everyday lives.
- Prompt your young children to count in 2s, 5s, and eventually 10s.
- Ask them to identify and describe patterns they might see.
- Look for and use real opportunities to have them calculate in their head. (e.g., What is the total cost? How many more do we need? About how much longer will it take?) Their answers are less important. It is more important to have them verbalise their thinking by asking, “How do you know?” or “How did you figure that out?”
- Be positive and foster their ability to “do” mathematics.
Praise your children with phrases such as:
- I like how you worked that out!
- That is very good thinking!
- I like how your brain works!
- Wow, you are very good at mathematics!
- I would never have thought to do it that way!
- Be a role model and foster a home environment that values mathematics.
Do say, “I liked working with numbers”.
Don’t say, “I was never any good at mathematics.”
No one ever admits, “I was never any good at reading/writing”, so we shouldn’t say it about mathematics.
And remember, it is important to use everyday language to teach key mathematical concepts rather than relying on the student’s ability to memorize rules.
ORIGO At Home is a space to provide guidance and instruction for continuing math learning at home. With a minimum of 14 topics per grade level, you will find resources and activities to help provide engaging mathematical thinking and practice.
Check it out today; it’s FREE! https://www.origoeducation.ca/athome/