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News from Mathnasium of Highlands Ranch

Mistakes in Math Help Kids Grow

Aug 16, 2017

We live in a society that values high performance. Especially in math, we value quick, correct answers.

Like you probably experienced in school, our kids are required to memorize math facts and speedily spit out correct answers. We used timed tests to measure how quickly kids can recite math facts.

Speed does not measure knowledge. It doesn’t measure thinking. Nor does it measure potential.  

However, research has found this is neither helpful nor effective in building a foundation in math.

In fact, trying to achieve perfection and speed causes anxiety and stress in children. Our children begin to believe that they don’t have a “math brain” or they aren’t a math person. This belief causes them to think they can’t do math.

Kids believe making a mistake is negative. They think it shows they don’t know how to solve a problem. Kids believe mistakes indicate intelligence, and that, if they make mistakes, they are stupid. This belief causes kids to give up.

As parents, teachers, and Mathnasium instructors, we need to instill the belief in our kids that mistakes give them opportunities to grow.

Mistakes in math are opportunities to learn.

When a child makes a mistake and catches the mistake, that child takes away much more from that process than they would if they got the problem correct. The process helps them child deepen his/her understanding.

Mistakes in math make kids more resilient.

While assessments can be a valuable tool to inform instruction, they also give kids a snapshot of their own abilities. Based on their assessments, kids assess their own value. Sometimes this information can crush a child. However, when mistakes are accepted and used as learning opportunities, kids thrive. Instead of mistakes dictating self-worth, mistakes are just points along the journey. Without the stigma, kids aren’t bothered by mistakes. They can look past their mistakes. Mistakes don’t define them.

Mistakes in math allow kids to take risks.

When kids know that mistakes are welcome in a learning environment, they are more likely to be risk-takers. They will try hard. They will work through problems. They will be comfortable with struggling because they know, eventually, they will figure it out.

Mathnasium’s mission statement: Help every child reach his or her potential in math by teaching the way that makes sense to them.

At Mathnasium, we believe every child has the capacity and brain power to learn math to the highest levels. We work with students through their struggles and build their confidence so they believe in their own abilities. At Mathnasium, we use mistakes to empower students to deepen their understanding.

To learn more about how Mathnasium can help you support your child in math, contact us today! Call (303) 471-7501, email or visit our website at