THE NEW AD­DI­TION

A closer look at John Mighton’s strate­gies for tak­ing the strug­gle out of math

The Kids Post - - Contents - By Darcy Stre­it­en­feld

Math marks have been on the de­cline as of late, but John Mighton of non-profit JUMP Math says it

doesn’t have to be so

Par­ents around the globe watch their kids strug­gle with math. The cy­cle is this: kids have trou­ble un­der­stand­ing the ma­te­rial, they get frus­trated, and they men­tally check out. But what if we told you that the math blues could be a thing of the past? What if we told you that any child’s poor per­for­mances in math could be greatly im­proved? Well, it’s true. “Vir­tu­ally any child has the po­ten­tial to be an in­cred­i­bly strong math stu­dent,” says John Mighton, founder of JUMP ( Ju­nior Undis­cov­ered Math Prodi­gies) Math.

JUMP Math is a Toronto-based, non-profit or­ga­ni­za­tion com­mit­ted to teach­ing par­ents, ed­u­ca­tors, ad­min­is­tra­tors and kids how to teach and learn math ef­fec­tively. Its web­site, jump­math.org, of­fers online les­son plans, “we­bi­nars” (online sem­i­nars) and in-per­son train­ing ses­sions easily ac­ces­si­ble to ev­ery­one with the inkling to learn.

Stan­dard­ized test­ing shows On­tario stu­dents’ math scores have been slowly de­clin­ing over the past few years. How­ever, ac­cord­ing to Mighton, a few tweaks in the way math is taught could dras­ti­cally im­prove how kids learn math.

We all are far more ca­pa­ble in math than the stats may show. In fact, many stud­ies sug­gest math scores are di­rectly re­lated to the emo­tional re­sponse to math. Strong lik­ing for math garn­ers higher test scores. Strong dis­like for math leads to lower scores.

“Kids shut down when they ex­pe­ri­ence re­peated fail­ures in any sub­ject,” ex­plains Mighton.

The in­abil­ity to meet chal­lenges and see con­sis­tent im­prove­ment acts as a de­ter­rent for kids. They see math as the en­emy. But re­ally, “all math can be bro­ken down into very easy steps,” says Mighton, who be­lieves that kids need to deeply un­der­stand the ma­te­rial in or­der to feel com­fort­able with it. Break­ing it down for them slowly and in­cre­men­tally at first will lead to ac­cel­er­ated learn­ing later.

“I’ve seen kids cheer for math, stay through re­cess. They have a sense of won­der that they lose through fail­ure. There is not only an aca­demic loss, but a loss of won­der and cu­rios­ity,” says Mighton.

Math doesn’t have to be so im­pos­si­ble. If you start slowly, Mighton prom­ises, “the kids will amaze you with how fast they can learn.”

Who knows? Maybe your lit­tle one will be the next math prodigy.

Do your kids hate math? JUMP Math aims to change that

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