I love math, and I’ve always been really good at it. I haven’t conducted a scientific study, but from my observations there’s a direct correlation between the two—that is, the love of math and skill at it. It makes a certain amount of sense that someone who loves math would take the time to get good at it, and that someone who isn’t very good at math would be predisposed to dislike it. What I can’t figure out, even in my own case, is whether the enjoyment or the skill came first.
As you may have guessed based on the title of the post, I don’t want to know this just for historical purposes. I want my kids to be good at math, and it would be great if they also enjoyed it as I do. But I don’t know how best to get this to happen. My kids are pretty young, but I started enjoying math when I was young, so I want to make sure I’m doing all I can to inspire interest in them. It’s important to me that they’re good at math not just because I’m a geek, but also because I think math skills are really important in life. Not only do they make finding the best deal at ther grocery store that much easier, and calculating tips at restaurants much faster, but they’re useful in all sorts of circumstances. I was particularly reminded of this a short while ago, when I read this article in the Washington Post about a simple math error resulting in a multi-million dollar error in Maryland state education fund allocation.
I originally started writing this post as a list of ways to get your kids to love math, but then I realized that I really don’t know how to do it. I don’t remember my parents or teachers doing anything in particular that made me enjoy math, and so far I haven’t had a lot of success getting my kids excited about it either. My son is good at math so far, but so far hasn’t seemed as interested in it as I was at his age.
So, I’m putting the questions out there: How can you make sure your kids are good at math? How do you get them to enjoy it? And do the two always go hand-in-hand? Please leave your thoughts in the comments.