Stop the math madness for your tween
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By GreatSchools Staff
Discuss math-related careers
Or browse through a college catalog, where you'll see that math is a "hidden prerequisite" for a number of classes and degrees in non-technical fields. Social workers, for example, need to take statistics. Business majors need college calculus.
Point out real-life problems that require mathematical thinking
Consumers can't make smart choices about their cell phone service providers without math. Or evaluate the claims of pharmaceutical advertisers about a new asthma drug. Or calculate how long it will take to pay off a 30-year, $500,000 mortgage with a down payment of $60,000 and a fixed annual interest rate of 7%.
Examples like these will help demonstrate to your child that learning math is more than memorizing a set of rules disconnected from real life. "It's as much about thinking mathematically about the situations students are going to encounter," says Moore.
Watch your attitude
If you respond to your child's struggles over a math problem with "I was never good at math either," you're making a powerful statement. Your child may pick up the widely held view that some people can do math and others can't and that luck and genetics have more to do with math success than effort. It's socially acceptable for people to say they don't understand math, says Fennell, and that's not helping students in a world that requires more math skill than ever before.
"A parent will say to a math teacher, 'I was never particularly good at math,'" says Fennell. "That same parent would never say, 'I don't know how to read.'"
Find out what your school is doing to recruit and retain good math teachers
Moore says he hears the complaint that too many math teachers have just one way of teaching. "If it's not working their only solution is to talk slower or louder. What we need are for more teachers to have a broader repertoire of strategies for approaches they can try," he says.
The shortage of math and science teachers has made recruiting and retention a challenging part of a principal's job. Find out what your school is doing to hire and keep great teachers — those with a solid background in math and experience with a variety of strategies for engaging students in the subject.