September is such an exciting time as it marks the start of a new school year. It is a time for students, educators and parents to have a fresh start and get off on the right foot. Although I will not be returning to work in the same way as I have done so for many years, I will continue to see it through the eyes of my grandchildren and my volunteer work in classrooms. Charlotte is excited about finally joining Nathan her older brother as he goes off to Grade 1. I want both of them to have a wonderful year of learning in an environment that nurtures the individuals that they are. Parents (and might I add some grandparents) and educators are partners in a child’s education. That is why it is so important to communicate regularly and be clear on the messages that we want to share.

Last year at the beginning of October, I was pleased to be a participant on a panel at the Holy Cross Parent Night in Kingston, Ontario called “Creating Calculating Kids”. In preparation for this evening, my colleague who had invited me sent me some math quotes to reflect on in preparation for the discussion. I will share some of these in future posts.

Prior to that evening I put down some thoughts or messages that I hoped to convey to parents and educators through my part in the discussion.

Some Key Messages for Educators and Parents:

- Teacher and student efficacy are predictive and strongly correlated to student achievement. A focus on early math impacts math and literacy in the later years. A focus solely on literacy impacts literacy. (Dr Cathy Bruce, Trent U.)
- You can take the math out of literacy, but you can’t take the literacy out of math. (Vicki McGinn, SNB Numeracy Facilitaor) – Yes, you may quote me on that!
- It is important to not tell your children that you weren’t good in math. When mothers tell their daughters that they weren’t good in math then their achievement goes down. (Jo Boaler, Stanford U.)
- Jo Boaler says that we need to change the way we think about math and teach math. Brain research is saying that everyone can grow their brain with the right experiences.
- Math is about finding different ways to solve problems and different ways to think. There should be a focus on explaining and arguing as reasoning is at the heart of math.
- Everyone can excel at math with the right attitude and experiences. We need to view mistakes as opportunities for growth. When you struggle, you grow because you develop perseverance and grit.

Parents, your children are learning different methods than you may have experienced and we understand that this may make you feel uncomfortable. Just as we expect the medical profession to evolve so does education with new research and learning. Please see these different methods as opportunities for great conversation between you and your child. It is important that you resist the urge to jump in and teach the way you learned or discount the way the students are learning because you do not understand it. Listen to your child, get them to explain it, honour different methods, and encourage them. It is so important that they do not receive mixed messages. Ultimately, we have the same goals for the children in our care!

“Happy New School Year!”

I love this post, especially since now that I am a parent. I agree that it is very important that we be open to the fact that the teaching of mathematics has evolved; we don’t want things to remain static in a world that is changing around us. Our willingness to listen to our children as they share THEIR experiences learning mathematics, and not the other way around, just might result in everyone learning something new :o)

Thanks Kristie! Yes, I think the fact that we can learn from each other is so important. Just because we learned math in a different way does not mean it was wrong at the time, but with new research and information we must be willing to evolve along with the math and learn something new.