A Home-life that Supports Children with Math at School
“I was never good at math, so how can help my child with school math”, you might wonder. Well, you are not alone! Many parents struggle with remembering multiplication facts, using fractions, and working with algebra or geometry. Of course, the first quick answer may be to simply hire a private tutor for the child. However, our task as parents does not have to stop there. In the home, there are three areas to offer math support for a student of any age, without ever doing a single math problem.
The first is to cultivate the child’s ability to form a clear mental image. This is sometimes called, inner picturing, or seeing in the mind's eye. Albert Einstein is quoted saying, “If I can’t picture it, I can’t understand it”. This is the same for math. One way to strengthen a student’s ability to form mental picture is to limit the exposure to external screens: television, movies, computer time, and video games from our child’s environment while at the same time engaging the child in memory games, reading books with little or no pictures, and imaginative play. In the absence of formed images, the mind has to grapple with and create its own pictures.
Secondly, positive feedback and interest in a student’s work goes a long way. Ask your child about what they are learning in math and take a genuine interest in their studies. Celebrate their math successes! If you are math-poor yourself, keep that a private matter. Many times, children will adopt the beliefs of their parents. Search your memory for positive math experiences and share those with enthusiasm. Did you have a favorite math teacher? Did you enjoy the symmetry of nature or the exactness of measurements? Did you love counting money? Fill yourself with the love of math in an authentic way and offer your interest in what is being studied in your child’s classroom.
The third area that parents can support the learning of math at school is through the support of the child’s health at home. Home health includes a simplified lifestyle with balanced nutrition, fresh air and exercise, and at least 10 hours of peaceful sleep. Foods that help the math mind: grass-fed beef, organic chicken, wild salmon or tuna fish, almonds or almond butter, organic Greek yogurt, flax and fish oils, quinoa, and filtered water. Foods that hinder the math mind to eat in moderation: all simple carbohydrates (bread, rice, pasta), sweets, and sodas.
Lastly, and perhaps most importantly, it is never too late to reinvent ourselves. We parents can re-learn math and find a love for the subject, even now. Very late in life, when he was studying geometry, someone said to Diogenes Laërtius (fl. early 3d cent.), "Is it then a time for you to be learning now?"
"If it is not," he replied, "when will it be?"