This conversation happened in New York yesterday.
During a coffee break, I sat down on a white pleather sofa next to an older man.
Me: How has your day been?
Him: Good. You?
Me: Pretty good. Interesting.
What do you do?
Me: From what?
Him: I was president of [small New England college]. How about yourself?
Me: I teach math at a community college in Minnesota.
But I’m also working on a project. I work with future elementary teachers, so I have studied the mathematical development of children.
Him: Uh huh.
Me: And I want to use that knowledge for something else, which is this: I am trying to understand what knowledge parents need in order to support the mathematical development of their children.
Him: That’s important.
Me: Do you have grandchildren?
Me: Oh nice! So their parents—your kids—are my target market.
Him: Yes. Their father is really into that. They use Khan Academy and all that.
If the end of that conversation makes no sense to you, I ask that you please, please, please spend the next 15 minutes over at my website, Talking Math with Your Kids. You might be especially interested in the research summaries, which demonstrate that young children need to talk about number and shape with their parents rather than (or at least in addition to) being sent to website, iPad apps and decks of flash cards.
Kids need mathematical conversation. And they enjoy it.