Math might seem very mysterious these days, but the new methods will contribute to a lifelong appreciation of the science. (File photo)

Sooke elementary’s math talk aimed at confused parents

Helping kids with homework is more than forcing them to memorize

Jeannie DeBoice is bringing the message of math to the parents of Sooke elementary school students in a presentation designed to demystify a methodology for teaching math that is very different from what most adults experienced when they went to school.

It’s important, said DeBoice, vice-principal of curriculum for the Sooke school district, parents know things have changed and that the old method of forced memorization is no longer the preferred method of learning.

“We used to use the ‘drill it and kill it’ method where we drilled the facts into their little heads and hoped they stuck. This was often done with no context that told the children why 6×7 is 42 and that didn’t give them the skills to arrive at that number independently,” DeBoice said.

“We can’t support that method any longer since we now know how children’s brains work and understand that it isn’t the best approach.”

DeBoice added some automatic knowledge is still important, but that memorization by itself is not the best way to learn.

“For example, we teach the commutative principle (6×5 is the same as 5×6), and the distributive principle (arriving at a sum by multiplying each addend separately and adding the products) for example. These are principles that are valid in elementary school, but then are used right through secondary and post-secondary learning.”

RELATED: New methods raise concerns

DeBoice also wants parents to know that the schools are teaching core competencies that allow kids to solve, understand, reason, analyze, understand, communicate, reflect, and connect.

“We want them to be able to think critically and understand the connections that math has in the real world,” she said.

“Math is a science of pattern and order, and it’s not just that this is a new-fangled way of teaching math, but a matter of seeing the mathematical connections. It’s a rich connected world, not just bits of isolated information.”

And if parents are still puzzled about whether they will be able to help their third grader with their math homework, DeBoice intends her presentation to lift the veil to clarify some of the mystery.

“We will be letting the parents explore some of these same concepts and let them feel what their children are feeling when they discover something in math.”

The presentation will take place on Feb. 12 between 6:30 and 7:30 p.m. at Sooke elementary school.

“We all have calculators on our phones and on our computers, but we’re sending the message that the best calculator is still your child’s brain.”

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With help, math doesn’t have to beat young students. It’s all a matter of understanding the principles. (File photo)

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