#STEMchat recap: Raising kids who love math

STEMchat sponsor texas instruments

A big thanks to everyone who participated in the September #STEMchat–we trended on Twitter, people! Thanks especially to Texas Instruments for sponsoring the talk, Jen Merrill for preparing the summary below and fab panelists Amy Mascott, Jeanne Bernish and Miss Lori.

Next month’s chat will take place on Tuesday evening, October 23 at 8 PM Central and we’ll be talking about libraries as makerspaces thanks to the American Library Association. How cool is that? Sign up for the STEMchat newsletter and receive a monthly reminder along with top posts from The Maker Mom blog.

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And now, the highlight reel:

How to Raise Kids Who Love Math

Q1 A LOT OF PARENTS CARRY MATH “BAGGAGE.” WHAT’S IN YOURS?

*My “math baggage” was low confidence.
*I’m the opposite, math minor in college. I LOVE math. My kids not so much and I don’t understand why!
*Grew up with being told boys are better than girls at math.
*I did okay up until calculus, but that blew me away. Now my brain is full of cobwebs.
*I do carry this baggage: in elementary school I could NOT pass those timed tests.
*I hated math as a kid because my teacher did not explain it well.
*I was told most of the stuff we learn in high school math we won’t use in the real world.
*I was absent the day the class learned long division and I always felt like I was missing a trick to  do it.
*Oftentimes, especially in elementary school, teachers are not comfortable with math themselves. So it affects how they teach. I think many don’t understand the WHY–but they understand the HOW.

Q2 DID YOUR LITTLE ONE HAVE AN INTUITIVE UNDERSTANDING OF MATH OR DID YOU HAVE TO TEACH IT?

*I think many kids start out with an intuitive understanding: Lemonade stands? Biggest slice of pie?
*My kids are pretty good at math. But we do a ton of foundation work. Since I homeschool I can take time to do that.
*Having a good teacher is pivotal. But also having the time to get enough repetitions of a lesson is important too.
*Having the teacher who shows math in the real world & teaches the kids why they need to know math is crucial.

Q3 WHAT ARE YOUR FAVORITE BOOKS, SITES, OR OTHER RESOURCES FOR EARLY MATH?

*Computer games that were geared toward their age group that made math fun: Math Blaster, Power My Learning, Bedtime Math, @TeachMama’s math resources, Khan Academy, Living Math, Sum Dog Ko’s Journey
*Books are always important to us. They loved this book, Big Numbers, sadly, it’s out of print.
*My kids have always loved puzzle books also (secret codes and such)
*We’re HUGE fans of the ThinkFun games like RushHour, RushHour Jr., Just got ShapeOmetry & Math Dice.
*LEGOs also allows for kids to be creative, which gives another connection: math and creativity. LEGO Education also has great math/STEM hands-on programs.
*Dice. I bought a bunch on sale from a store that was closing and my kids made up games with them.

Q4 WHAT SURPRISED YOU ABOUT ELEMENTARY MATH NOW VS. WHEN WE WERE KIDS?

*I’m surprised at how little the teachers actually teach and just expect the kids to “know it.”
*The acceptance of calculators at such early grades, & how much info is accessible through the Net.
*My kids know so many more math terms/concepts by name than I ever did when I was their age.
*It also seems more intense at the elementary age. I’m not sure that’s a change for the better though.
*The incessant testing. Math minutes are of the devil. :/ Some people’s brains just can’t move that fast.
*The estimating! I want them to learn how to do math the old school way. ;)
*I hate Everyday Math with the passion of a billion white hot burning suns.
*As a kid math was boring, now with manipulatives, iPad games, cool calculators, the sky is the limit!
*I learned that the math classes in high school are more advanced now than they were when I was going to school.
*Spiraling is terrible for kids who are good at math. For how many years do they have to learn telling time? UGH!—Spiraling is terrible for #gifted kids. Yet again, learning stuff they learned years ago. :/ —Gifted kids are often left to their own devices, but they still have holes in their learning that can’t afford to be overlooked.

Q5 WHAT ARE YOUR FAVORITE MATH RESOURCES FOR ELEMENTARY KIDS?

*Anything that allows them to touch, move, dance, sing or have fun.
*Tutors!
*Vi Hart videos on YouTube.
*We love the games on PBS Kids and PBSKidsGo! Fun interactive STEM learning online and through the apps!
*We used squinkies for a graph lesson the other night. And anything w/ cooking-involved math as a family!
*My daughter loves flashcards, thinks they are so much fun! And I won’t tell her any different *wink*!—I made GIANT flashcards for my daughter when she was little. She said she felt it must be important because they were so big.
*I always found my LEGO’s the best for math… I had square roots down by age 4.

Q6 LET’S BE HONEST, HAVE YOUR CAUGHT YOURSELF TALKING NEGATIVELY ABOUT MATH IN FRONT OF THE KIDS?

*<raising hand> I’m not good at math and the kids know it.
*@MissLori’s ‘nspiring’ post about her decision to not fear math after the TI @BlogHer breakfast:
*No, I pretty much love math BUT I do tell them if I forgot how to do something or I made a mistake so they know mistakes are ok.
*Let your children see your learning process. It will go long way towards helping them establish their own.
*It can be a challenge. I heard friends on FB last night saying they are frustrated by the new methods and when they tried to teach the older methods we learned, the child balked, because it was the wrong way.
*My kids know math wasn’t my strongest subject, but I do tell them it’s important.

Q7 WHAT ABOUT RESOURCES FOR ADVANCED MATH? ANY TIPS?

*Math fans, don’t rule out 4H for your kids, it’s not just farming, there are robot categories, etc etc!
*Texas Instruments’ Student Zone offers study help including free homework help from Tutor.com! Learn more:
*I always recommend mentors, online or in real life.
*The TIP program is a great opportunity for advanced learning. (Kim’s note–anybody have the link?)
*Girl Scouts have their own STEM activities/curriculum also!
*Khan Academy has been great b/c Sal breaks down complex topics so even young kids can understand—I like that Khan Academy has the science too, giving math some real-world context.
*My son really loved the SODA Constructor site too – more engineering
playing chess, checkers, card games, & strategy games also help build STEM skills! (Kim’s note–is this the right link?)
*Texas Instruments’ Math Nspired center offers lessons & tools to help students expand their knowledge & understanding!
*Here’s a GREAT post @KimMoldofsky wrote for KidzVuzParents on STEM resources for clubs and schools!
*Monopoly has done a lot for math in my house!
*Khan Academy, watch TEDtalks (9 Ted Talks to Get Your Teen Excited About Math), find a robotics club.
*Museum of Math opening in Manhattan in December.

FINAL Q: KIDS HAVE ATHLETES, MUSICIANS, AND ACTORS THEY LOOK UP TO, BUT DO THEY HAVE A STEM/MATH ROLE MODEL? WHO?

*STEM role model: @neiltyson, Carl Sagan, Stephen Hawking.
*I know a lot of the #dcmom gals’ kids looked up to our friend @whymommy — a STEM superstar.
*My nephew is a research scientist with every Xbox game – my son thought that was awesome so he wanted to be one too!
*There’s no reason why you can’t be an athlete and a “math person!” We call them mathletes!
*My daughter loves the Nancy Drew Interactive games – great girl role model for STEM activities
*There are STEM role models, but they everyday people doing amazing things in our towns.
*Every parent has the chance to be their child’s STEM/math role model by introducing it to them early on & making it fun!

GENERAL #STEMchat TIPS:

*Brainstorm the benefits that math brings to your everyday life and share examples with your children daily.
*My daughter’s teacher has started #MATH centers similar to reading centers. Kids love it and show improvement!
*Do your children collect anything? Whether it’s cards or stuffed animals, you can help them count their collection!
*Remember to speak positively about math in front of your children. After all, you’re their role model!
*Raising kids who love math means giving them the confidence that they can do it, math can be fun, & building basic skills for success.
*Make elementary math fun. Most kids decide by 4th grade if they love or hate math. And once they decide, it’s hard to change.
*Do not wait for Middle School to re-engage your child in math! They will lose interest!
*Sometimes learning how a mathematician does math is better/different/necessary than how a teacher does math.
*Kitchen Pantry Scientist has family-friendly science experiments.
*Struggling to help your child with their math homework? Five ways to help via Math for Grown-Ups.
*Next #STEMchat will be Tuesday, Oct. 23rd and we’ll be talking libraries and maker-spaces with the American Library Association!

Anything you’d like to add? Suggestions for future #STEMchats? Leave a comment below.

Comments

  1. Tracey - Just Another Mommy Blog says

    You know what’s weird? I hated math until I started teaching Algebra to my eldest. And now it’s like an awesome jigsaw puzzle! Well, to ME. Him? Not so awesome. And he hates jigsaw puzzles…

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