• Dr. Monica Cavender

Smiles and Mathematics

Basic facts truly are the foundation on which all mathematical computation is based (larger numbers, rational numbers, operations with variables, and so on). However, too many students leave elementary school lacking fluency with the basic facts (Bay-Williams & Kline).


Families can support their own children without worksheets and workbooks. Zach’s Backpack has several new games added to support elementary children and their families in having fun and doing mathematical activities.


The key is talking about your thinking together. Your child will have ideas about how to get an answer and you will have your own approach. In contrast to how you as the parent may have learned math facts, we now know that fact fluency involves strategy not just recall.


Many of us as parents, grew up in a generation of learning mathematics where our mathematics skill was judged on how fast we could complete a timed test or shout out an answer in a game of “Around the World.” Gold stars would be added to a chart and publicly displayed. This only boosted the confidence of those who could memorize well. So many of us were humiliated or repeatedly made to feel as though we didn’t have the capability to do math.


Years of research has shown educators that public humiliation and recall is not the way to promoting critical thinking. As a parent community, we can work together to support our children in talking about different approaches to get the answer. The deeper the understanding of how numbers and operations work, the more success your child will have as mathematics increases in complexity in the older grades.


Try out some of the games at Zach’s Backpack and you will find yourself smiling AND thinking mathematically!



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