A math presentation for parents at St. Thérèse of Lisieux Catholic Elementary School on November 9 was designed to show parents easy and effective ways to support their children in learning math.
Mary O’Brien, a Mathematics Special Assignment Teacher with the Hamilton-Wentworth Catholic District School Board, explained the importance of students developing a growth mindset in their abilities to learn and grow, especially in math.
Sharing data from student surveys, Principal Josie Pini revealed that many students believe they 'are not good at math' while teachers expressed concern that many students 'give up' quickly when faced with challenging and complex math problems. Pini said teachers at the school have made it a goal to change the fixed mindsets of students. Students with fixed mindsets are those who are more likely to give up easily, whereas students with a growth mindset are those who persist even when work is hard.
The term “growth mindset” comes from the groundbreaking work of Carol Dweck. She indicated that everyone has ideas about his or her own potential. Some people believe that their intelligence is more or less fixed, especially in math; either you can do math or you can’t. About 40% of students have these damaging “fixed mindset” ideas, she suggested. Another 40% have a “growth mindset” – they believe that they can learn anything and that their intelligence can grow. The other 20% waver between the two mindsets (youcubed.org).
O'Brien shared activities, ideas, and websites that parents can use to help their children learn and love math. Parents were told that mistakes are valuable; they encourage brain growth and learning. The main message was that everyone can do well in math. O'Brien and Vice-Principal Michelle Daoust prepared grade-appropriate displays and take-home bags that contained fun activities that parents can share with their children. Math Special Assignment Teacher Evelin Niemiec, was also on hand to answer questions.
All parents will receive information about growth mindset and valuable resources with their children's Report Cards in the coming week.
O’Brien told parents, “You are the first educators of your children. You can help them learn and love math by connecting it to everyday life and by making it fun!”