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Working with Your Student

Did you do well in math when you were in school? If math was difficult for you, you might actually find it easier to help your student than if you were good at math. The important thing is to work hard to keep from passing on negative ideas about math. Your message must be “mathematics is important for everyone.” To be successful in our society everyone must know how to read and how to solve problems.

What if you’re good at math? You will also have to work hard to keep from dominating your student’s learning. It’s sometimes very hard to resist explaining an idea you understand. But holding back is necessary if your student is to remember the idea and to become an independent learner in life.

No matter how good you are at math, you can help students reach the goals of the Discovering Mathematics approach. Start immediately to establish two habits of working with your student.

  1. Be a student to your student. Keep asking your student for explanations. Ask questions as if you were the student trying to learn. No matter what your understanding, it’s better for you to ask “Why does that work?” than to say, “Here’s how to do that.”
  2. Be curious and enthusiastic. Say things like, “I haven’t seen this idea before, but it seems interesting” rather than “It’s beyond me!” or “This isn’t important.” Ask what happened in class, and be curious about the homework. Showing this kind of interest says that you expect your student to be actively involved in class and to work on homework every day.

You will also benefit from knowing why the books take the approach they do. Refer to the general description of each book as well as to the notes on individual chapters.

No matter how successful you were at math, you can help your students have success. Good luck!