Like soccer, mothers can help their children embrace mathematics at an early age.
Over a decade ago, the phrase “soccer mom” came into the language to describe super-busy, middle-class suburban women who — often with careers outside the home — logged long hours shuttling school-age children to soccer team practice and games and other activities.
These mothers didn’t introduce soccer to the nation, but their support of children playing the sport may account, in part, for the fact that soccer is now the fourth-ranking team sport favored by high school boys and the third among high school girls.
Mothers also can be instrumental in helping their children at an early age embrace, love and master math — one of the single most important factors in predicting their later academic achievement.
But getting moms to love math may be a bigger task. Can we similarly inspire the devoted and delighted “math mom”? Math is the language of science and the key to innovation. We all know that kids who are fluent in math are more likely to be creative thinkers and skillful problem solvers, who can work in high-tech fields that offer top pay and go begging for workers. We’ve all heard how math and related subjects are the key to our kids’ future employability, but in parallel how America’s schools are floundering in these all-important subjects.
In fact, in my town, countless moms are hiring tutors to help their third graders with math. They think they can’t handle the content, but the real problem is that they still experience math anxiety from their own schooling.
As a nation, women in particular are incredibly math-phobic. A 2012 Raytheon study found that moms are 72% more likely than dads to feel they can’t help their elementary-age kids with their math homework.
We can do better, and mothers can lead the way if they involve children in the math that is…