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