This original article was written by the National Education Association. Helping Your Child with Today’s Math
Today’s math is designed to help your child compete and thrive in a rapidly changing world—academically, professionally, financially, and socially.
Math education should prepare your child to graduate from high school, get into college, start a career, and make smart, informed decisions in every area of life. To do this, today’s math education may look different than it did when you were a child. That is because the world is different.
We live in a different economy, with different jobs, requiring different skills. For your child to compete in top fields like science, medicine, and technology, or even to create their own path, math—and the mental problem-solving skills it instills—is critical.
Math is also essential to making good decisions in daily life—whether applying for financial aid, comparing mortgage rates, or planning for retirement.
Today’s math is meant to prepare students to manage and enrich their lives.
The idea behind today’s math is not just to do it, but also to understand how and why we do it. Students do not just learn numbers, equations, angles, and theorems, but also put in context why these concepts matter in life.
As a basic example, let us consider a second-grade classroom. In this classroom, two apples plus two apples still equal four apples. But the teacher asks students to go a step further. How many apples would they need for a classroom party? What is the cost to buy those apples? How much money do they need to have in the class budget?
Working through this series of questions helps your child develop problem-solving skills, which they can apply over and over to everyday life. The same goes for solving complex equations in a tenth-grade classroom. The students do not have to become mathematicians to apply the logical thinking they develop. Employers in every field value this skill.
Because of this deeper approach to learning, math problems may take a bit longer, but there also may be fewer assigned. Help your child stay focused.
Encourage them to talk through the problem and the solution and ask them to show their process as well as the answer.
If you visit your child’s classroom, you may also see an emphasis on group learning. That is because working in teams builds greater understanding, creativity, and innovation—all in high demand in the work world, and key to enriching every aspect of your child’s life.
These are just a few examples of how you can incorporate math into daily life. Ask your child to help you:
Estimate the cost of groceries in your cart.
Pay your bills.
Decide how many gallons of gas you can buy with a certain amount of money.
Figure out how many calories you need to burn to work off snacks you ate during the day.
Calculate the cost of school lunch for the week or month.
Determine how long your child will have to save their allowance in order to buy a new video game or toy.
Compare the costs of different cell phone plans.
Determine how much paint you will need to paint a room in your house.
Figure out if it is more cost-effective to lease or buy a car.
Measure your garden or window to determine how many plants and vegetables you can fit.
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