I love math, but I haven’t always. For all the years of my life preceding my education as a teacher, I despised the subject. The rules, equations, and abstract concepts had little meaning to me and were sometimes beyond my comprehension. It wasn’t until I started my training as a teacher that I began to look at math differently. In my classes, I relearned many of the concepts that I found so unappealing through activities that brought them to life. I was taught to understand what I was learning so that I could later pass that understanding on to my students.
Unfortunately, the opportunity to learn math in this way does not exist for the parents of many children. Until now that is. Old Dogs, New Math: Homework Help for Puzzled Parents is a wonderful resource for parents struggling to find ways to help their children with the math they’re expected to learn at school. This book offers a short course on the concepts taught in today’s elementary schools and does so in a way that brings parents up to date on many of the new techniques teachers use to teach them. I have to admit that as a fifth grade teacher I was surprised (and excited!) to see so many of the strategies that I have used time and again in my classroom (and many more that I haven’t used but will soon!).
Do not confuse this book with a boring survey of math though; each chapter is full of engaging text, pictures and diagrams, sample questions, and engaging math games. One of the book’s best features is its emphasis on understanding the mistakes that kids make on their math homework. In each chapter, parents learn the common challenges that kids have with specific concepts and can even see real mistakes that they make in solving certain problems.
Old Dogs is a very worthwhile read and a handy book to keep around until the last of your children heads off to middle school. It does for parents what my training in education did for me—take the fear and loathing out of math and make it an enjoyable subject.