For as long as I can remember, I have hated math. Hate is putting it mildly. I hate math with the fiery heat of a thousand suns. Like, I would rather eat a cereal bowl full of scabs, no milk! I would rather watch Miley’s VMA performance than solve an Algebra problem. If given the option I’d try to explain the Internet to my grandma over helping anyone above third grade with their math. Actually, no, that’s wrong. They start teaching fractions in third grade, right? I meant anyone above second grade.
You get my point. Numbers hurt my brain. Literally. They make my head ache.
But guess what my daughter thinks?
Math is fun! Numbers are awesome! I looove numbers!
I’m terrified of passing my math anxiety on to my daughter and, according to smart folks who probably know how to solve algebraic equations a lot better than I, that’s something that happens a lot. As noted on Slate, girls are nervous about math because their moms are, too. Slate cites an article in the journal Sex Roles that examined the “adult-to-child transmission” of attitudes about learning—in particular, how mothers’ unease with mathematics may be passed down to their daughters.
The article was written by Elizabeth Gunderson, a reasearcher at the University of Chicago who says parents’ “own personal feelings about math are likely to influence the messages they convey about math to their children.”
Which, DUH. Right? But being aware of your attitudes about things like school subjects isn’t always at the forefront of your mind, is it? Certainly we’ve come a long way when it comes to not calling ourselves fat in front of our girls but editing our negative thoughts about something like math in front of our kids isn’t talked about as often.
Gunderson says there are two simple things you can do right now that will go a long way toward inspiring your children to approach learning certain subjects with positivity.
Watch your language:
Don’t say, “I’ve never been good at math” or “I can’t do math to save my life.” Your children are listening. If mom hates math your children may reason that it’s okay for them to hate math too.
Use your child’s education as an opportunity to brush up on your own skills:
Learn along with your kids and you might discover that what you’ve always feared isn’t actually so scary. Especially when the pressure is off and you aren’t being graded for your work. Your dedication will inspire an improved attitude in your children as well.
How easy is that? Check your attitude about math in front of your kids and do some homework with them in an attempt to understand math along with them. My daughter starts kindergarten this year and I’m so terrible at math I plan to learn it right along with her through her years of elementary and junior high. Hopefully, by the time she gets to the really tough stuff I’ll have engendered a positive attitude about math that will carry her through the rest of her life. And then she can be the one to figure out the twenty percent tip because I’m tired of counting on my fingers.
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