Reasons Why Kids Must Learn Math

We should remind ourselves why we want our kids to do well in math in the first place. Kids need to learn math to make their own adult lives better, by making smart decisions on routine day-to-day matters. Let’s explore the ways we live smarter when we grasp the numbers.

  1. If kids grow up to be good at math, they’ll raise kids who are good at math— because parents are children’s first teachers. When parents love math and feel comfortable with it, and feel brave enough to help a child with math homework, that attitude is contagious. Those parents were once kids themselves, so let’s start the cycle on the right foot, for the good of our kids and for society.
  2. Teachers need to step up their game.Far more kids will learn math and enjoy it if they have great teachers. It’s hard to teach something you don’t understand, and to help your students feel comfortable with the material. Inspired students require inspired teachers.
  3. Changing the world takes more than just feeling good.Do we know whether our efforts to save really make a difference? How much plastic do we spare by buying bottled water with slightly smaller caps? When we buy cloth diapers, do we really know whether we’re helping the environment, or whether in fact all that hot water and electricity to wash them cancels out the benefits? We should make sure we are doing good vs. just feeling good.
  4. Foreseeing long-term consequences is crucial.This holds just as true for big-ticket items, like the compounding interest on debt. Whether you become a painter, a neurosurgeon or a nail-salon attendant, you will have to manage your finances, and you will survive better if you are willing to fall forward and grasp the numbers behind debt.
  5. Not all deals are created equal.When people offer you a deal, that deal is probably better for them than for you, or they wouldn’t offer it. Math shines a bright light on this. When you’re pitched a warranty that costs one tenth as much as the product, ask yourself: has one out of every ten things in your house broken before it should have? Those who do quick back-of-the-envelope math skip most warranties, because a few replacements over time will cost little by comparison.
  6. Simple math can help you make healthier choices.A Starbucks Frappuccino has around 430 calories. It takes four and a half hours of walking to burn that off — about half a workday. Those who run the numbers behind obesity might just skip the coffee. Same thing with sugar and the diabetes scourge: we’re supposed to eat a limited amount of processed sugar a day, about 2 desserts’ worth. But one can of Coke has a lot of sugar too and virtually wipes out anyone’s chocolate quota for the day. If we do math, we might make different, happier choices.
  7. Being penny wise, not pound foolish really is good advice.The same concept of leverage applies to saving money. If you cut your monthly coffee consumption by two-thirds, but it’s only one percent of your total budget, you won’t save much money. If your rent eats up half your budget, that’s the one to tackle.
  8. Math allows you to figure out how valuable your time really is.Almost every parent has had to volunteer for a school fundraiser, tying bows around auction items for hours. The gala raises money and everyone feels good, but if someone counted up our hours of work, would we even crack minimum wage? Airport security lines, bad traffic merges, the DMV — they all persist because no one counts up the cost of consuming so many people’s time.
  9. It’s important to be aware of financial realities.The fact is, if you drive five miles to a convenience store, buy a lottery ticket, and drive home, you’re actually more likely to die on the trip than win the lottery. Gambling, random drawings… we need to recognize that we’re spending on mere entertainment, and that money is never coming back.

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