Waxing Philosophical

March 18, 2022

I just received this lovely reflection from the Early Family Math newsletter. I’m now on the board at Early Family Math, and I recommend you check it out! The issue of providing free, high quality mathematical experiences for families with young children couldn’t be more vital.

So go to earlyfamilymath.org, and sign up for their newsletter at earlyfamilymath.org/signup. Here’s a selection from the latest newsletter, written by Chris Wright.


Waxing Philosophical

I would like to take the occasion of EFM’s first birthday to be a bit philosophical about EFM’s program. Next month I will return to identifying a source of excellent math activities and featuring a select group of those activities.

Why Not Use Worksheets and Drills?

While very limited use of worksheets, drills, flashcards and the like are occasionally useful for skill reinforcement and identification of weaknesses, we strongly believe that their use be kept limited. The routine use of such tools in some math education programs is one of the strong contributors to why so many people grow up disliking math.

Math is a beautiful discipline full of wonder, joy, explorations, challenges, and insights. Being involved with real math leads to individual growth in areas such as problem solving, persistence, grit, and communication. I know, that all sounds very grand, but what does that have to do with my four-year old?

It has everything to do with your child! Just as you would want a child to grow up with art, music, and stories, you should want a child to have the richness of math and all its benefits be a part of their life. Those who reduce math to mechanical, tiresome, isolating exercises of routine tasks are sucking the life out of a subject that can be incredibly valuable and fulfilling.

Most adults have had unfortunate experiences in their math education, and so they pass along negative attitudes to their children. It is essential that adults be involved in the playfulness of math and see that math is something they can enjoy and be successful with — that way they can break the cycle of negativity and offer the next generation positive experiences with math.

Can Games and Puzzles Teach Math?

Playing with games and puzzles may seem frivolous and a waste of time to some. Nothing could be further from the truth! Children, and adults, learn best through play and things that feel like play to them.

Read the rest here.

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