If your children are anything like mine, they have an insatiable need to play and compete. For my seven-year-old, Rayni, this need is met by family game nights where we battle for the title of Rummy Champion. Because I’ve been described by a few individuals as a bit of a control freak, I typically am the one keeping score. It wasn’t until I looked up from my calculations to see Rayni eagerly awaiting the new totals that I thought, “Why isn’t she doing this?”
I feel that the hardest part about embracing #MathMoments is relinquishing the reigns, knowing your child may take an excruciatingly long time to come up with an answer or the answer may end up being wrong. Cue control freak.
We have to get to the point as adults when we ask ourselves, “So what?”
It won’t, in fact, kill me to wait three minutes for the score instead of 30 seconds. I need to shuffle for her tiny hands anyways. If there’s a mistake, that’s great news! Not only are the misunderstandings now evident to both of us, but we also get to have a conversation about those misunderstandings in a low-stakes setting.
Here’s a video clip of Rayni talking about her calculations. It’s not at all how I would have computed but that’s the beauty of mathematics. The patterns and connections that exist in our world are profound. Seeing a second-grader notice and manipulate those connections makes me proud to be her mother and a teacher.
Teachers, what if we decided to lay off of the homework worksheets for the week and asked families to play a card game with their children instead? I’ve tried it, and parents loved it! Here’s the directions that I sent home with students to practice addition and subtraction (MAFS.3.NBT.1.2) via the age-old card game, War. I also did a demo video with Rayni that I posted to ClassDojo and our Facebook family group. I’d love to hear your ideas on how we can help create #MathMoments for students and their families!