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Published at Wednesday, 18 September 2019. **algebra**. By Paige Masson.

The issue of calculators has been debated by math teachers, university professors, and parents, but there is general agreement that calculators shouldn’t be a substitute for learning basic arithmetic and standard algorithms. Larson believes the use of calculators is not a yes or no question. While he says technology can help build a deeper understanding of key algebra concepts, students should still learn how to practice standard procedures on their own. You don’t want to see students go straight to calculators, Fennel says. “The calculator is an instructional tool,” says Fennel. “It should support but not supplant anything. You don’t use it for 6 x 7.”

Algebra I isn’t the first step toward math success — students begin exploring algebraic reasoning in kindergarten (and, ideally, even in preschool). Researchers say that a powerful way to help your child build a strong foundation in math is by encouraging them to develop a positive mindset about math. A strong mathematical mindset refers to how your child thinks about her ability to succeed in math class. It’s similar to having a “can do” attitude. Research has proven that having a positive attitude towards math contributes to higher math test scores and a better understanding of essential math skills. “One of the most important things parents can do is simply be positive about mathematics,” Larson says, “and point out where they themselves use mathematics and see mathematics in the world.”

“Parents should appreciate that learning mathematics is sometimes challenging,” Larson says, “and it’s not necessarily a good sign if everything is very easy. Students should be appropriately challenged to use problem-solving skills.” To do some homework of your own, Fennel suggests talking to your child and her math teacher about how homework is used. You can ask: Are homework assignments corrected and returned in a timely way?. Is homework reviewed in class so students can learn from their mistakes?. Does the teacher change the pace or direction of his or her instruction, based on student feedback? You don’t need to be a mathematician to ask good questions about your child’s curriculum, Fennel adds. “Ask the teacher, ‘Is it a repeat of math that should have already been mastered? When my child finishes this year, will he be ready for high school math?’”

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