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Helping your child with math: Why it's important

“Why do I need to know this stuff?”

When I was in school, I had to do arithmetic, and almost every day I questioned its usefulness.  I couldn’t see the need for some of the things I was learning.

Why did I need to know how to divide fractions, or do long division, or measure an angle?

Arithmetic skills are valuable because a basic knowledge and understanding of facts, formulas, calculations, and procedures is a necessary foundation for learning mathematics. Arithmetic is a small first step in learning math; math is much much more than simple arithmetic.

So why do we need math?

Learning math is important for a number of reasons:

• Students learn how to creatively and effectively solve problems using a variety of strategies.

• Students learn to communicate using concrete objects, pictures, numbers, words, and symbols.

• Students learn how to think; during class discussions they learn how to reflect on and explain their work, and they question, defend, and evaluate their own and each other’s solutions.

• Students learn how to make connections and see relationships between math and other subjects.

• Students learn how to apply their problem solving skills, communication skills and thinking skills to everyday life.

In math class, students develop, strengthen, and extend their mathematical thinking by talking with their teacher and classmates.

• Students learn to organize, review, and discuss the strategies they use to solve problems and the solutions they discover; learning through problem solving strengthens understanding.

When math students become better problem solvers, thinkers and communicators, they become better decision makers. Students who are successful in math are more innovative, confident and competent, not only in other school subjects, but also at home, at work, and in their everyday lives. They are more capable of processing information, have many more career opportunities and are better prepared to live in a world of evolving technology.

Sooke resident, Greg Sparks, M.Ed, is a retired Adult Upgrading Instructor, Special Education Resource Teacher, classroom teacher, and Elementary Numeracy Coordinator. Please send any questions, comments and/or suggestions to: gregsparks50@hotmail.com.

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