Published at Wednesday, 18 September 2019. algebra. By Odette Marty.
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.”
The first year of algebra is a prerequisite for all higher-level math: geometry, algebra II, trigonometry, and calculus. Researchers have found in multiple studies that students who take more high-quality math in high school are more likely to declare science, technology, engineering, and mathematics (STEM) majors in college. Students who take Algebra II in high school are also more likely to enroll in college or community college. Algebra can lead to many new opportunities for success in the 21st century. What’s more, when students make the transition from concrete arithmetic to the symbolic language of algebra, they develop abstract reasoning skills necessary to excel in math and science.
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.”
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