At book fairs, some parents tell me they weren’t particularly good at math. Some will go even further and say they hated math. Some go even further than that and say, “My daughter’s a dummie in math like me.” What’s shocking to me is they tell me this with their child standing at their side.
STOP and think what this message conveys to your child:
- Mom/dad wasn’t good in math so maybe I won’t be either.
- Mom/dad wasn’t good in math and doesn’t expect me to be good in math either.
- I’ll show up mom/dad by if I do well in math. They won’t like it if I’m smarter.
If you say you hate math, be aware you are shaping your child’s attitude toward math, particularly if you’re a mom speaking to a daughter. Your daughter loves you and seeks to be just like you. She may pick up the false message math isn’t for girls. Now most moms would never say, “I hate reading. I hate books. I haven’t read a book since high school.” Yet somehow it’s okay for parents to disparage their math skills.
If you say your child is a dummie in math like you, you are setting your child up for failure. Your child may choose not to disappoint you. Like father, like son? Like mother, like daughter?
My recommendation: do not to share your negative math experience with your children but encourage them. If you feel you must share this experience, frame it this way:
- I had trouble with math but you won’t because you have a parent who really cares about your success in math and will help you.
- Your teacher also cares about your success in math and will help you.
- You have resources I didn’t have such as great math books, video tutorials, multiplication CDs and math video games.
My point is: your negative experience stays with you. Although you had a negative experience, you expect your child to have a positive experience. You expect your child to succeed in math. Your child will fulfill these expectations. There are few parents who do not have the basic skills to make sure their 3rd grade child succeeds in math. The formula for success is the following:
Parent’s POSITIVE expectations + HELP for child = SUCCESS
This formula works for any subject matter: English, reading, science, etc. So think about what message you’re imparting to your child. Separate your negative experience from your child and make clear that your child will succeed. Your child deserves no less.