Thursday, July 12, 2012

Math Girls

When I was in school I was constantly told I was good at English and bad at math. I heard it so often that it still echoes in my head. It limited what I thought my career options should be to the point that I didn't even consider anything requiring strong math or science skills, even though many of those jobs are more about problem solving than equations.

This is something I don't want to happen to our girls. Although there is more emphasis on girls in math and science now than there was when I was in elementary school, it is still hard for girls to see themselves as good at math. There are a lot of studies about why this is true. I've read a lot of them and see a lot of the researchers' conclusions in action in our schools. Everything from budget cuts affecting classes to people thinking it's not good for girls to be too smart.

This summer our girls do a little bit of math every day. We have workbooks they can choose from for their daily math refresh. They can pick anything they want, but they must do their math. In part this is to combat the "summer slide" that often happens when kids are out of school. In part it is to make sure they are ready for third grade math.

Most of all I want them to have a strong foundation so they can build their confidence while they build their math skills. The blond twin said today that math was her favorite subject. She's confident that she can do it because she has practiced so much. The brunette twin doesn't gush about math like her sister, but her standardized test scores show she's good at it too.

Some day they will look back at their summers and remember all the fun they had. The half-hour of math they do every day probably won't even be part of their memories, which is fine by me. I want to create a never-ending loop in their heads that they have lots of options in their lives if they study hard and work hard. If summer math can help that, it won't be a memory but an active part of their success.

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