Nurturing young minds can be a tough job, so we’re fond of sites that empower parents to raise active learners. It’s exciting to see that one of those sites, Education.com, loves the Bedtime Math book! Not only that, they have lots ideas on incorporating math into everyday life. We’re pleased to present Danielle Wood, one of the Education.com founders, as our first guest in the 5 Thoughts about Math series. In the coming months we’ll feature additional exciting guests sharing their thoughts on math and raising young mathematicians.
1. What do you love about math?
I love to play with numbers. My favorite types of math growing up included logic, geometry, and algebra, because they all have an element of the puzzle about them. There’s usually one right answer, but you can often get to it in a variety of creative ways. I’m pretty crazy about making sure that the math content we develop here at Education.com has that element of play. I really want kids to have opportunities to see how fun math can be.
2. How did you feel about math as a child and what shaped that opinion?
My dad has a PhD in mathematical logic. There were definitely pieces of math that I wasn’t crazy about– like learning my multiplication tables. But in terms of the wonder of math, I was lucky enough to have a parent who believed in it, and could show me how interesting math could be. One of my main motivations when helping start Education.com, was to create hands-on math activities that parents could do with kids, that felt like play. A lot of that motivation came from trying to recreate the playfulness I felt growing up, when it came to math. There’s no reason why kids can’t practice their tables by playing card games, or learn about patterning by stringing wind chimes.
3. What is your favorite math memory?
In middle school, I only had one female math teacher. On the first day of high school, I found out that the entire math staff was made up of women. That was a revelation. There was absolutely no room for the idea that “girls can’t do math.”
4. What advice do you have for parents who want to create a math-friendly environment?
It’s okay not to be a master at everything, but kids can pick up on fear in a heartbeat. If math was intimidating to you as a child, now’s your chance to create a whole new environment for your own kids.
Start by being involved in math as early as possible– not just when the homework gets hard. Dump out your change and have kids sort it (same and different), count it (number sense), or guess how much you have (estimation). Give them your grocery list and ask how much they think each item will cost. Have them tally things in their heads as much as possible. Sort and classify with your laundry. Play guessing games that include not just objects, but numbers! (“I’m thinking of a number between 50 and 100.”) Young kids can ask questions such as “Is it more than…” but older kids can ask, “Is it an odd number?” or “Is it divisible by 3?” For young learners, don’t forget to move beyond rote counting and work on number sense. Make sure your kids can work with real objects and touch them as they count, not just recite a counting sequence.
One of my favorite things growing up was working with my dad on my math homework. I know it sounds crazy, but it was one-on-one time with him, doing something he loved. Obviously, not all of us are mathematicians, but sitting with kids as they do math assignments from an early age, and learning alongside them, is a real chance to make memories, as long as you’re not gritting your teeth! Start early, with math printables that incorporate riddles, or puzzles, not just rote drills. First grade is when math starts getting a bit more challenging for kids, and it’s a good time to get into the habit.
5. Thanks to math we can… count cookies!