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How can I help from home? Let’s avoid spoilers!

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If you are reading these words, it is because you have most likely felt the need to lend a hand in the mathematics education of the children of the house. It is a good starting point: however, not every child is lucky enough to have someone who cares about this. But what we have to ask ourselves is where this need to help comes from.

Therefore, the first thing we recommend is that you talk to the school. The teachers, who spend many hours with children and have specific teaching and learning training, are best suited to determine the academic needs of each child. In addition, it is essential that there is coordination and coherence between what the student learns in class and what we work on and transmit at home. Sometimes, although we have the will to help, we must bear in mind that most adults have not learned mathematics in this competency-based way, nor are they specialists in education. This often causes concepts to be presented in a hasty and biased way at home, from an adult point of view that is not sensitive to the child’s learning progression. In other words, when you do math at home, you risk stepping on the moments of discovery and conversation in the classroom, crucial to generating lasting knowledge; you risk falling into traditional mechanisms that contradict what the child is learning in school, generating even more doubts; and you risk, above all, conveying a memory-based, opaque and repetitive image of mathematics. As you can see, it is all risks. But then, can we not do anything?

Well, at Innovamat we are also mothers and fathers. We understand that, at any given time, it may be necessary to lend a hand in the practice of a procedure, especially when we talk about mechanizing basic arithmetic operations. In that case, we must always make sure that what we practice at home has been discovered and built before, in class. Let’s avoid spoilers, please!

That said, on our website we provide you with the Strategies in 2 Minutes videos. These videos show the keys to the main algorithms we use to solve the basic arithmetic operations (addition, subtraction, multiplication, division). This does not mean that the whole proposal revolves around calculation algorithms (mathematics is much more than this!), nor that we solve all operations in this way (we use many visual strategies, with manipulative material and mental calculation), nor does it mean that these strategies replace traditional algorithms (but they are more transparent and understandable, so they guarantee a better initial understanding from which to move, if you will, towards traditional algorithms).

We hope that these videos provide you with a starting point from which you can begin to help the children. Then, from this point on, please talk to the teachers. And above all, talk about mathematics with the children: ask them what they do in class, become their students for a moment and you will discover reasoning, arguments, and fabulous connections. And you will also learn better ways to help them.

  • Albert Vilalta

    Trained Engineer and a vocational Mathematics Professor. Currently he is a professor in the Education department of the Universidad Autónoma de Barcelona and is finishing a doctorate in Mathematics Education. He combines his university roles with teacher trainings and, above all, his investigation, communication and conceptualization responsibilities in the education department of Innovamat.

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