Monday, October 1, 2012

Mighty Math Powers

My three-year-old daughter and I have discovered Team Umizoomi, a Nickelodeon program that explores math for young children.  Princess likes watching Milli change patterns with her magic dress or Geo create things with shapes.  But she does not like being told that she also has "mighty math powers."  In fact, she argues back with the television that she doesn't have such powers.

I am admittedly at a loss as to how to deal with this.  Sure, we could just switch the station, or I could ignore her, but I'm worried.  She recently told her older brother that she didn't like watching "boy shows."  Is she already thinking of math as a discipline for boys?  How do I combat that message? 

As you can imagine, I believe in science accessibility for all.  But maybe I haven't been as vocal about math.  My husband is more gifted in math than I am -- Itinerant Cryptographer is internationally known for his abilities.  Have I simply shoved all of the math parenting duties over to him without realizing it?   Have I (unintentionally) projected the message that math is for boys?

My little girl loves to dance, so I pointed out to her that dance steps involve counting and rhythm.  But I'd love to hear your ideas.  If your daughter thinks of math as a "boy" subject, how have you addressed that stereotype?  How do you engage your daughter in math? 

Photo credit: D Sharon Pruitt, via flickr // CC BY 2.0


CricketB said...

"You must like math!"

"No, Mom, I don't, and I have good reasons."

"But here are good reasons you should."

"And here are more reasons I don't."

Sorry, Mom, you can't win with the direct approach, and her logic will trump yours.

Since she already argues with the show, avoid it. Meanwhile, teach math and love of math the same way you teach reading and love of reading. Count out-loud rather than in your head. Plan how many cookies you need, then get them. If she insists on remembering a list of friends to get cookies rather than counting, fine. Don't fight it. "Just let me check the page number before I stop reading." "The thermometer says 40 deg -- that's jacket weather." "Two and a half cups of flour."

Maybe give her brothers tasks that involve math she can already do. Giving them tasks she can't do, hoping she'll want to do them, might backfire. "See! I can't do math!" rather than "In two years I'll be able to do that."

Best of luck.

jublke said...

Thanks, CricketB. I guess what baffles me is that she does have "mighty math powers." She seems to like math when it's not pointed out to her that she's doing it. It's the label that seems to be upsetting her, and, in turn, upsetting me. And frankly, she likes the show, too. Just not when they tell her she's got math powers. I guess I will try to keep my mouth shut the next time that she argues with the TV and try to foster a love of math in other ways. But I think I also need to watch the number of times that I say, Oh, Dad is the mathematician of the house - even if it's true.