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

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

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. Since I was a business major in college I had to take a fair amount of math classes – statistics, college algebra, finite mathematics, calculus – and boy did I not enjoy it!  teaching math, child development, homeschooling

 

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.

 

A lot of formulas were memorized, geometric diagrams studied, and algebraic expressions learned. I did a lot of exercises of the “do this and this and you get the answer” variety. Everything I memorized flew right out of my head the moment the test was over. 

 
Mathful parents: nurturing child's love of math.
 
 
So if I wanted to be a good math teacher to my kids the first thing I needed to do was educate myself. I wasn’t even sure what is mathematics? Can I find something that is fun about it?
 

I got books.

 
 
These were all exciting books that I read late into the night. Unexpectedly, I fell in love with the subject.  I wanted to learn even more about math. Now the prospect of teaching my kids math was thrilling. I felt prepared. As we all know, the best teachers are the ones who are eager to learn more about their own subject. 
 
 
 
I already knew I wanted to teach mathematics in a 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 all. 
 
That’s how I ended up with shelves stuffed with Singapore Math, Math U See, Hooked on Math, Math Made Easy, Oak Meadow curriculum, Math by Hand curriculum, Life of Fred math curriculum, and a whole bunch of seemingly fun workbooks from School Zone Publishing Company to DK Math and everything in between. Most of it was waste of money. Although, I did learn a lot!
 
Oak Meadow, a Waldorf style curriculum, was probably most successful. Numbers 0 through 10 and the four processes of mathematics were learned through stories. They were very good stories, but we were not moving anywhere close to my oldest son’s desires and abilities.
 
 

What’s math?

 
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.
 
The exercise forced me to define exactly what 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,” 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.
 

A mathful parent

What I like to think of myself now is a mathful parent from “math” + “artful.” According to the dictionary, “artful” means “skillful or clever in adapting means to ends” and “done with artistic skill.” 
 
 
So then my definition of 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 math from my school years, but 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.
 
 
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?
 
Disclaimer: For your convenience, this post contains Amazon affiliate links. If you click on my link and purchase something, I will receive a small commission at no extra cost to you. Thank you for your support!
 

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18 Responses

  1. This is a really important concept. Anyone can learn to like math. Good for you for making it fun!

  2. I agree! Cookies is the best math manipulative I know! Gets them interested every time. Especially when they have to divide them evenly …

  3. I will try to setup a fun math station for next playdate. Maybe kids will enjoy doing it together. Thanks for the comment!

  4. 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!

  5. 1 week ago – Shared publicly

    When its time for real math I so dreqs it but thanks for saying anyone can be a good math teacher I’m thinking me and my kids will need a tutor. 

  6. 1 week ago – Shared publicly

    I love math, and my 7yr old doesn’t. She does well. Just doesn’t like it, so we’re finding ways to make it more interesting for her.

  7. 1 week ago – Shared publicly

    I think it’s important to use real-life examples and relate it to something your child likes, and THEN they’ll be interested!

  8. 1 week ago – Shared publicly

    It is really important to help children see that math can be fun. I am also glad you are focusing on more than just regurgitating the right answer. Much of math instruction today is focused on problem solving and understanding relationships with numbers. I wish I had been taught that way as a child. Michele @ http://www.educationdivas.com

  9. 1 week ago – Shared publicly

    Math is such a difficult subject to learn if you don’t have that math mind. I wish someone would have made it fun while I was in school. Thank goodness for calculators!

  10. 1 week ago – Shared publicly

    Yes, you HAVE to make it fun! I still cringe at the thought of math!!!

  11. 1 week ago – Shared publicly

    This is great! My daughter hates math and I have a terrible time teaching her. I will have to follow along and see what I can learn from you.

  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 (https://fishbowlfortune.wordpress.com/2015/12/14/12-days-of-christmas-blogging-challenge/)…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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