Attitude of Gratitude for Math

By Mr. Darryl Lee, Head of Math, Junior School

After a restful summer, life starts to ramp up again by the time late August arrives. Many students and teachers start to get a little knot in their stomach as the first day of school gets closer. If you’re like me, it takes a while to get into the groove of things and the month of September often feels like weeks on end of getting up on the wrong side of the bed.

Thankfully, we’ve reached October and with it comes the CARE theme of Gratitude. Gratitude and positive thinking can help students improve their grades, achieve their goals and increase their quality of life! Gratitude brings to mind the concept of the “growth mindset.” Students with a growth mindset are persistent and will keep trying even when the work is difficult. In a sense, it’s all about having a positive attitude, especially about life’s challenges. Looking back on all the school math activities from September, I cannot help but feel grateful for the efforts and hard work from the teachers and students in each grade level.

Students in grades 5, 6 and 7 dusted off their memory banks, reviewing place value and strategies for calculating operations with numbers, and then applied their computational skills to solve problems based on real life situations. From the perspective of gratitude, these achievements were made possible by the prior work they had accomplished as younger students.

In JK, math lessons start with learning about what numbers are, what they mean, and how to form them through exploration and play using various math toys at numeracy stations. They build on this foundation in kindergarten, when students learn different ways to make number bonds to 5 and practice counting forwards and backwards. Students grow their skills to include numbers to 10 in grade 1 and numbers to 100 in grade 2. Activities include making concrete and pictorial representations of the numbers using base ten manipulatives and art creations. In grades 3 and 4, students expand number concepts to larger place values and are also introduced to smaller numbers—fractions and decimals become their new friends. Math activities in these grade levels reflect the importance of numbers and how they are used in everyday life.

With the hustle and bustle that comes with the beginning of the year, it is easy to get caught up in the moment and to focus on the day’s challenges. As I look back on the previous weeks, months and years, I reflect on how students have learned to build on the skills, knowledge and understanding from the years before, and I feel grateful for it. Instead of getting up on the wrong side of it, just think how great it is to have a warm cozy bed, and your day will start off a whole lot bedder.