AP NEWS

‘Adding Parents to the Equation’

May 11, 2019

CHELMSFORD -- Ten frame, rekenrek, number bond and tape diagram. If it feels like your child is speaking an entirely different language when it comes to math education, you’re not alone.

Chelmsford Public Schools K-12 Mathematics Department Coordinator Matthew Beyranevand and Lesley University Center for Math Achievement Director Hilary Kreisberg, of Chelmsford, have teamed up to create a new book that aims to dispel the confusion about how children are taught math today and help parents get more involved.

“Adding Parents to the Equation: Understanding Your Child’s Elementary School Math,” released by Rowman & Littlefield Publishers May 1, seeks to answer the biggest questions parents have about their children’s math homework and provide them with the tools to supplement their learning.

“We so often hear parents say things like, ‘I hate math,’ ‘I can’t do math,’ or their fifth-grade student child will come home and say, ‘Mom can you help me with this?’ ‘Oh, I don’t know how to do algebra,’” Beyranevand said. “There’s a mindset among families that is really not able to support. So what if we gave you the resources to support?”

The immediately popular book sold out of its first 200-print run on the first day. It is currently on backorder, but a second printing is underway and more copies should be available soon.

The book’s lessons are applicable to ages 2 to 12. It isn’t specific to any particular curriculum, but does address how math is taught today under the updated standards used by most states.

Beyranevand said there are already many math education supports for students and teachers, but there is a lack of resources for “the most important stakeholders,” the parents.

Everywhere they went, Beyranevand and Kreisberg would hear parents grumbling about how they didn’t understand their children’s math work or why things had changed. Kreisberg said she’d often jump into such conversations to try to help provide better understanding.

They sent out a survey asking parents how they feel when their children come home with elementary level math homework. The top four answers were intimidated, frustrated, worried and confused, Kreisberg said.

“If that doesn’t tell you there’s a need for this book, I don’t know what does,” she said.

Kreisberg said the way math is taught now is not new, with conceptual thinking going back to ancient times.

“It’s now being reformatted in a way where we’re not about answer-getting, we’re about thinking about process and understanding how to reason,” she said.

Kids don’t need to memorize multiplication tables, but they do need to develop strategies for problem-solving, Kreisberg said. That is especially needed as computers and automation replace more jobs and skills that don’t require reasoning and thinking, she said.

The book sorts through all of the new educational jargon that confuses parents -- such as how ten frames are used to build numeracy on a base 10 system -- and explains the tools children are using in school, Kreisberg said. It explains why old adding and subtracting terms like carry and borrow have been swapped for group and regroup or bundle and unbundle, she said.

It also promotes the idea of a growth mindset, and seeks to remove the fear of making mistakes, by embracing them as part of the learning process, Beyranevand said.

When they began working on the project, the first thing they did was buy a copy of each of the small number of books out there that target parents, Kreisberg said.

“While they were helpful in some manners, they were all missing the critical component of why has math instruction changed,” she said. “They were also missing how exactly to help your kid in a home setting, to take what we’ve learned in school and apply it at home.”

Provides examples

The book provides examples of how parents can initiate conversations and games they can play with their kids to support their math learning.

Most parents will read to their children for a short time every day, and Beyranevand hopes to foster a culture that also promotes the idea of engaging in mathematics for 15 to 20 minutes a day.

“Adding Parents to the Equation: Understanding Your Child’s Elementary School Math” can be purchased on Amazon.com . Visit mathwithmatthew.com/index.php /books and lesley.edu/professional-development-and-continuing-education /center-for-mathematics-achievement for more information.

Follow Alana Melanson at facebook.com/alana.lowellsun or on Twitter @alanamelanson.