Saturday, March 15, 2014

Parents, Don't be afraid of math

I'm not good at math. 

I hope you got your Dad's math skills. 

He is just not good at ___________. Should he sign up for your class? 

Kids can't do this kind of stuff. 

The first two statements, I will admit I am guilty of uttering. For years, I have told myself and even my students that I am not good at math. The truth is, I am good at math. I can do enough math to get by. I also know how to find the answer if I need to. I just don't have confidence in my math abilities and I had also been told at a young age (by a teacher) that I was not good at math. 

The last two statements I hear every year as I begin "recruiting"our upcoming 6th graders in our STEM classes. 

I have come to the conclusion that parents and teachers are big factors in a child's future decision of whether they will major in a STEM field/take STEM classes even as early as elementary school. 

I truly have not met a kid who isn't good at STEM. Every child has a natural instinct to inquire. They also are very good at cause and effect. If I do this, then this will happen. Sometimes the results are good and sometimes the results are bad. I see this even with my 17 month old daughter. 

Getting back to the math thing. How many moms truly think they are good at math? Is it a mom thing? Is it a female thing? Are women just not supposed to be good at math? I know my mom also has told me that she is not good at math. 

I am stopping this vicious cycle here and now. 

I won't let my daughter be afraid of math. I won't let her be afraid to fail. Females typically drop out of STEM fields because they are afraid of getting low grades or they perceive the STEM classes as hard. 

My daughter and I--we will start with simple tasks, I can't wait to buy her some Goldieblox and I have been thinking of some ways to incorporate STEM into our daily activities. She already loves Technology, and I think Math is the easy part since she is so little. We can count things and add and subtract them. 

We will scaffold to harder projects over time. Sometimes our projects won't work.

STEM is hard, but the results at the end of the day--you know things like solving world hunger, crime, water issues, etc--mean more than a failing grade, or hurt feelings. Our kids need to know that engineers are super heroes--they can solve all kinds of problems. 

I know that my hubby and I have had the conversation many times--our lives would have been drastically different if we had some sort of STEM class in high school. The only jobs we saw were in journalism or teaching or working at General Motors. We didn't know any engineers and our teachers, counselors or parents didn't encourage us to go in that direction. 

So, parents please do your kids a favor. Encourage them to keep going when things get tough. Don't be afraid to fail and don't be afraid of math. 

1 comment:

  1. Thank you so much for writing this. Usually when Jay asks me to help her with her math, I groan and say, "I'll try."
    Tonight when she asked me, I said, "Absolutely!!!" :)


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