We know you want to support your children as best as you can. That can be tough in an age where there is almost too much information and conflicting information! This is particularly true with our new math curriculum.
This page is here to help provide you with some information about our math curriculum. It also provides you with some activities you can do at home, and links to other great websites that can help you support your child best. Math can be fun, easy and challenging – but in a good way. It is all about how we approach it.
For many of us math was no fun in school. It was difficult and often a complete mystery. It is easy to think that math is ‘hard’ because of our experiences with it. But for many of us, that is because of how it was taught. Our new methods overcome that. Avoid endorsing math anxiety or being “bad at math”. Students who have these attitudes towards math have more difficulties learning math than those who approach it positively.
We all have either a “growth mindset” or “fixed mindset” when it comes to math. These mindsets have been proven to really affect learning.To encourage a Growth Mindset encourage your child to perseverance through frustration and understand that mistakes actually make the brain grow – so are not bad but rather are very useful when we reflect on them and understand what type of mistake it was (carless mistake, misunderstanding, etc.).
Please see here for more information on how to help your child develop a Growth Mindset. I also highly recommend you watch this 10 minute TED talk by Dr. Carol Dweck, the researcher who has researched and written about this extensively.
Acquaint Yourself with the New Math Curriculum:
Our new BC curriculum is built on a Know-Do-Understand approach. It calls for a balanced approach to numeracy – which means students are working towards understanding why the math works (understand the concepts by using a variety of competencies like explaining, analyzing, justifying, reasoning, etc.), how to do the math (content that they need to know), and when to apply these concepts (do the math in context to solve problems).
Therefore the way we teach math will certainly look a little different than when you went to school! Most of us were taught through memorization and are well trained in using the traditional algorithms. Many see math as a bunch of rules to memorize or procedures to follow without ever knowing why they did those procedures or why those rules worked. In order to go beyond this we engage students in many different ways of thinking about problems and solving them, including the use of models.
Many parents don’t understand why we use multiple strategies to solve the problem when only one strategy is needed. We are teaching students WHY the math works when we use different strategies so even though you may think that the strategies are inefficient there is a very important purpose to using them. Some strategies are inefficient but are an important stepping stone towards deeper understanding. Imagine an Olympic diver attempting a complex dive off of a high board without first practicing multiple small steps in a foam pit or supported trampoline. It is the same learning approach.
We use manipulatives (blocks, tiles, fraction circles) and pictures to help students make sense of what the math actually means. For example 4 x 3 means 4 groups of 3, or 4 rows of 3. Most humans gather 70%-90% of their information visually, so we are making math more visual to help more people understand it. We also use these visuals to help us find the generalizations in math that become those ‘rules’ you might have memorized. This way students actually understand why the rules work as they do and they often construct the rules themselves which means they are way more likely to remember them!
It is great role modeling for your children to see you as a lifelong learner who is open minded to trying new things. We encourage you to try to understand these different methods and visuals as this can help improve your number sense too!
If you are really stuck and can’t help your child with their homework, please send along a note to the teacher explaining so. This is more helpful than teaching them a shortcut or the traditional algorithm before they have enough deeper understanding to actually understand the algorithm or short cut. If they can’t explain why something works, then they don’t have the understanding we’re aiming for.
Here are explanations for many of the strategies as well as games and activities that can help your child improve their number sense AND fluency.