Parents: Math Is Figure-Out-Able

I love listening to podcasts during my morning walk with the dogs. One of my favorites over the past year has been Pam Harris and Kim Montague’s Math is Figure-Out-Able podcast.

Figure-out-able. What a great word!

Figure-out-able sums up what I mean when I tell parents that math is “applied common sense.” Kids can use the things they know to figure out things they don’t yet know.

And figuring things out like that is fun, like a mental game where we play with the ideas of numbers, shapes, and patterns.

Usually, the podcast targets teachers, and the hosts try to show how they can help students learn to mathematize — to think mathematically. Over the past few weeks, however, Pam and Kim have been talking directly to parents about how to help their children learn math.

Ep 55: For Parents. Why all the “new math”?

  • Why did the math we were taught in school look the way it did?
  • How generations became technology dependent.
  • Children need to understand mathematics for the future of innovation.

Listen to Episode 55

Ep 56: For parents. Why does “new math” look different?

  • Reasoning about math is different from performing memorized steps.
  • We want reasoners, not calculators.
  • It is difficult to capture students’ thoughts on paper.
  • As we become aware of what’s possible, we can encourage better teaching.

Listen to Episode 56

Ep 57: For Parents. How can I help my kid?

  • We can all be mathy people.
  • Your attitude towards math affects your child’s attitude towards math.
  • Allow your child more time to think and help them use what they know, instead of providing them steps to answer a problem.
  • Wonder aloud about math-related topics, such as time and money.
  • Be a part of the math education at your school.

Listen to Episode 57

“Mathematizing is not about mimicking or rote memorizing, but it’s about thinking and reasoning, about creating and using mental relationships. Math class can be less like it has been for so many of us, and more like mathematicians learning and working together.”

—Pam Harris
Math Is Figure-Out-Able podcast

If You Liked Those…

You may also enjoy Pam and Kim discussing how to help children develop mathematical reasoning and master their multiplication facts:

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