Back in my college days, I loved learning about emergent literacy, or the way kids naturally learn reading skills by watching the most important adults in their lives (parents/older siblings) enjoy reading! Now, as a parent myself, who once struggled in math, I see the same can be true for a math mindset. Watching my own children, my most favorite students, naturally engage with math, in a FUN way, has given me ideas to use in my classroom this next fall!

Natural Exploration

It was the weekend and my son was showing math patterns to his sister, a future kindergartener. He was helping her see patterns of ten on a 100s chart! I promise I just happened to hear them and start recording!

As a fifth grade teacher, my students who need the most intervention in math do not naturally see these patterns. By the time they reach my class, this is a skill that will help them regroup, do long division, and multi-digit multiplication. But the key is that they must find the pattern themselves so it clicks and becomes part of their schema. In our broken education system, this kind of natural learning, or play, is often rushed or seen as non-productive. However, I believe often times, our students miss these math skills because we must follow a curriculum designed to cover all our state-mandated skills in 7 months instead of a curriculum that fits the needs of all learners. So math play and exploration is replaced by flat worksheets that can frequently overwhelm a struggling math learner, and bore the daylights out of any learner!

Fraction Familiarity

My oldest daughter, Madi, loves to bake. This morning I spent time showing her how to bake some breakfast muffins! I need her to get confident in this area so I can sleep in more this summer and on the weekends! Haha!

We’ve done this together many times, so I tried to let go and allow her to follow the instructions and guide her when she asked for help.

I also used this time to review kitchen safety!

Before mixing up the ingredients she asked me about how to say “3/4” because she had forgotten. We haven’t been out of school for three full weeks yet! I was glad to reinforce this with her!

Another moment later, she realized she had gotten “tsp” and “tbsp” mixed up–and this could taste awful!

I asked her how I was doing as her teacher, and she said, “Better, you haven’t yelled at me!” I say this to you because as we’ve done this over the course of her life, it’s been hard for me to truly let go and let her learn through her mistakes. But if I let my students at school learn this way, I’ve got to be better with my own kiddos, too. Especially with them!

Emotional Math Learning

We adults use math everyday and it helps us enjoy our lives more. Madi enjoyed the process of making muffins so much, she wanted to set the table for her siblings in a special way. We had so much fun and bonded emotionally that I realized how much social emotional learning was taking place.

My Madi and my other children are teaching me that the best way to teach math is to let them lead, explore, and keep it meaningful. Isn’t that how we all learn?

By the way, this math lesson was delicious!

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