I have had a complicated relationship with mathematics since I was a young child. I think I can pinpoint it to my middle school years and how my experiences during those pivotal years shaped how I thought of math, numbers, and my own intelligence. I struggled throughout high school, and even into college. I told myself, "I'm just not good at math." I truly believed I was deficient in numbers and calculations. However, now that I have been teaching numbers to children, I can honestly say that I am not deficient in numbers or bad at math. Rather, I was not given a foundation of number sense or guided down a path of fluency in equations in my earlier years. Was it the fault of my school system? The teachers? A lack of knowledge of how children need to learn numbers? I don't have the answers as to why I struggled for so long but I do know that I am not alone in this mentality that "I am just not good at math." We are all math people; we must find a way to hack our ability to connect to the patterns and to recognize the order that is all around us. That is one of the very reasons I love teaching math to young children. I love to see them build relationships with numbers, to play games with equations, and to interact with everyday materials in a mathematical way. My own relationship with math has changed as I have learned to approach it in a more humanistic and artistic mentality. Everything around us - our universe, nature, architecture - is formed by order and patterns - a compilation of the intrinsic beauty found in math.
Corelearn.com states that "Number sense is making sense of numbers – understanding numbers and how they work together. For example, in the primary grades students understand how numbers can be broken apart and put together when they explore and build fluency with concepts such as how to make 10 and how to break up 12 into 10 and 2. Multiplication builds on this foundation and with multiplication students are introduced to the distributive property: 8 x 12 is the same as 8(10 + 2) = (8 x 10) + (8 x 2)."
Math is something that kids should be having fun with. That is one of the reasons I love Bridges Math, especially in the younger years. It involves games, partner work, and sometimes art. The best part is that there are times that students don't even realize they are doing work. They just know they are having fun. It is this foundation of learning about the relationship between numbers and the patterns found in mathematics that I hope will establish in your child a solid footing as he or she progresses into more complex and higher ordered courses. I hope that numbers are not perceived as intimidating by your child - but a challenging puzzle that is begging to be solved!
Eddie Woo has his own YouTube channel called WooTube. He shares his experience teaching math and how he fell in love with numbers. He says, "mathematics is our sense for pattern, relationships, and logical connections. It's a whole new way to see the world...It's not just about finding answers but learning to ask the right questions." If you are short on time, skip to minute 5:29 for the really good stuff in his video: Math is a 6th sense. (Click the button below to watch.)
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