Math is a PROCESS
It's not just finding the right answer!
Making mistakes and trying to figure things out is part of doing math: This is how kids learn problem solving and how to really do math. How you respond when your kid makes an error can send the message that math is a process and that success comes from effort.
How to make math a PROCESS
Be a Cheerleader
Acknowledge their effort:
“I like that you’re thinking really hard about this!”
Point out what your child is doing that is a step in the right direction:
“You’re right that if we’re adding these numbers together, the answer is going to be a larger number.”
Let your child know that you believe she is capable of figuring it out:
“That’s not the right answer, but I know you can figure it out.”
Make sure your child knows that making mistakes means that they are doing math well:
“It’s okay that you didn’t get the right answer yet,
because now you know why that isn’t the best way
to figure it out!”
Pause...and Allow Some Struggle
If your child doesn’t get the right answer, or even the right strategy to find the answer, give them a moment to figure it out before offering assistance. This lets them know it’s okay to not get it right away.
Parents often find it tough to watch their kids struggle, so if you are tempted to jump in with the right answer, try this:
- Count to five to give your child a little extra time
- If he still needs help, just give hints at first and see if then he can figure it out
- Take a break if he needs it, and come back to it later
Emphasize Effort Leading to Success
When your child does get the right answer, reflect on the process it took to get there:
“Look at that! You kept trying, and you figured it out!”
Don't Stop at the Right Answer
Even if your child find the answer easily, you can still encourage her to make it a more effortful process.
Ask her how she figured out the answer, or explore it further:
“I wonder if there’s another way we could figure it out.”
“What if we had five pieces instead of four? Then how would we split them in half?”