Mathful Parent: fostering child’s love of math in creative ways

 teaching math, child development, homeschooling
The old question of “can I teach my kids mathematics?” that haunts many homeschooling moms never bothered me as much as “am I going to hate teaching mathematics?”  All through the school years and beyond I loathed math with every fiber of my soul. Since I was a business major in college I had to take a fair amount of math classes – statistics as a data science, college algebra, finite mathematics, calculus – I loathed them all.  I have a remarkable ability to make myself do what I don’t want to do with the same level of perfectionism I apply to other areas of my life.  It was “A” or bust.
Mathful parents: nurturing child's love of math.
When I first started developing lesson plans for my kids, I realized how little mathematics I actually knew.  I was always studying to get an ‘A,’ it never occurred to me to study mathematics to learn something.  I memorized a lot of formulas, geometric diagrams, and algebraic expressions.  I did a lot of exercises of the “do this and this and you get the answer” variety.  Once the coveted grade was in my pocket everything I memorized flew right out of my head.  So the first thing I needed to do was educate myself.  What is mathematics?  Can I find something that is fun about it? I got books.  Lots of them.  Love and Math, Mathematics: the science of patterns, Mathematics for the Non-mathematician, A Mind for Numbers: how to excel at math and science, Wonder of Numbers to name just a few.  These were all exciting books that I read late into the night.  Unexpectedly, I fell in love with the subject.  I wanted to learn more.  And I believe the best teachers are the ones who are eager to learn more about their own subject.
math is important
I already knew I wanted to teach mathematics in the way that was completely different from the way I was taught it, but how should I teach it?  I looked into getting the most fun curriculum I could find.  Of course, you don’t know what fun is until you get many different things and try them.  That’s how I ended up with Singapore math, Math.U. See, Hooked on Math, Math Made Easy, Oak meadow curriculum, and a whole bunch of seemingly fun workbooks from School Zone Publishing Company to DK Math and everything in between.  (And that’s why we have a library room plus a bookcase (or two) in every room of the house).
Oak meadow, a Waldorf style curriculum, was very nice.  Numbers 0 through 10 were learned through stories.  The four processes of mathematics were learned through stories.  They were very good stories, but after three years we realized that we were not moving fast enough for my son’s desires and abilities.
I decided to make a list of the concepts I wanted my kids to know and try to come up with the most fun exercises I could come up with to teach these concepts.  To assist me in making the list I used Common Core Standards.  It forced me to redefine what exactly I wanted my kids to learn.  No, I didn’t want my kids to count to 100 by a certain age mark, but yes I wanted my kids to develop a number sense.  It was not about teaching my kids to memorize that “3” is used to describe a collection of three trucks “1-2-3, three trucks, dear,” it was more important to me to teach them to recognize the pattern of “three-ness” because mathematics is a science of patterns.  Most importantly, I wanted my kids to think and to develop their own reasoning, rather than memorize a bunch of stuff related to math.
What I like to think of myself now is a mathful parent.  According to dictionary “artful” means “skillful or clever in adapting means to ends” and “done with artistic skill.”  So then a mathful parent is a resourceful adult who fosters child’s love of math in creative ways, concentrates on process-oriented math activities, manufactures positive learning experiences, takes advantages of learning opportunities, and blends facts with fun in unexpected and delightful ways.  This truly reflects the essence of my approach to mathematics.  I might not remember much in the way of formulas, but hey, I only have to be one lesson ahead of my kids.  The most important thing is my enthusiasm about teaching math, willingness to be flexible and a whole lot of daily creativity.
love of math, math in early years, child development
What I came to learn along the way is that any parent can be a good math teacher.  If I could make a journey from “loathing” to “love,” then anybody can.  I had to do a lot of reading and thinking to arrive at this point where I like math and I am excited about teaching it.  I want to save you some time and energy by sharing our exciting math ideas with you, from decomposition with LEGOs to our favorite math literature.  In the very least I can provide encouragement and support.  Do you want to be a mathful parent?
  This is what is coming up in this Math Series.  I will link to the post once it is published.


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69 thoughts on “Mathful Parent: fostering child’s love of math in creative ways

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  11. My problem is that I have always loved math, and I actually think it’s really fun to solve a page full of math problems. My kids disagree! So I definitely need your help thinking of creative ways to interest my kids in math!

  12. Growing up I hated math. In Elementary I was horrible in math and I had one teacher who made me want to cry at the thought of math. However, I had an incredible teacher in high school who believed in me and I started to understand math and do well in math. I have a love/hate relationship with math. I am so thankful that I did struggle with math because I now am a great teacher in math. If you never struggled or had a hard time its harder to sympathize with someone who is struggling or know how to teach it effectively. I also took calculus in college and just memorized the formulas. I am so thankful that I did take many math courses in college even if I might not do anything with my college education just because relearning something over is so much easier than learning it for the first time. High school years do not scare me because I know I can help them. We have done Math u see before. 🙂 I like Life of Fred series. We have a extra math program my kiddos work on…IXL. Have you heard of Bedtime Math: A fun excuse to stay up late by Laura Overdeck? I love them..I think you would really like these as well. Thanks for sharing another great post love. :)

  13. (candiedgala)6 days ago – Shared publicly

    Hi! I just dropped by to browse. Thank you for the very helpful entry on planning a Math curriculum. There are so many different things to include in Math.

    Also, I was asked to participate in a 12 Days of Christmas blogging challenge and I need to nominate 3 more people. I nominate you (…if you are interested and get a chance, that is. Cheers!

  14. 6 days ago – Shared publicly

    My dad kinda forced me to learn multiplication after I had just turned 3. I had zero attention span, so I didn’t know the answer, and got kicked out of the house for what felt like hours. (It was probably more like 15-30 minutes, but it was 10 p.m. and I was 3, haha.) I did learn em’ super quick after that, but I would’ve much preferred your methods!


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