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Why is it okay to be bad at math?
“I’m bad at math.” It’s something we hear all the time. Often, it’s greeted with knowing smiles and laughs. However, “I’m bad at reading” does not meet such a warm reception. Why is it that we treat literacy as a vital skill that can be worked on while we treat numeracy as a quaint talent that is innate? History of Writing Numbers Although the origins of speech and counting remain relatively unknown, writing of both letters and numbers emerged around the 4th millennium BCE. In ancient Sumer around 3100 BCE, there were dozens of local, incompatible number systems for counting specific things–objects, grain, weights, etc. For the most part, written language and written numbers were largely the province of large ancient institutions–temples, palaces, etc.–which handled things like long-distance trade, taxation, and sacred offerings. The average peasant, largely self-sufficient and rarely interacting with markets, had little need for writing, linguistic or numerical. It wasn’t until the dawn of capitalism that numeracy became a requirement for the average person. Prior to capitalism, the average person had little interaction with markets. Peasants made the food they ate, the clothes they wore, and anything else that they needed for their daily lives. The idea of having a job that provided an income that you would then have to budget was completely anathema to most people prior to capitalism. With capitalism came specialization. Individuals did a particular job for an income that they could spend on the products of the labor of others. Increasingly, individuals made little of what they used in the home, opting to buy instead. This requires not only addition and subtraction to account for individual transactions, but also multiplication and division to calculate income and expenditure over the long run. The Mathematics of Daily Life Dr. Leah Saal and her research team at Loyola University, Maryland have been studying the impact of numeracy skills on employability. In a paper presented at the 2018 Program for the International Assessment of Adult Competencies research conference, Saal and her team demonstrated that numeracy skills were predictive of having no experience with paid work or being long-term unemployed. They also found that these effects were amplified for marginalized groups such as women, older adults, and racial or ethnic minorities. According to the U.S. Department of Education, nearly one-third of adults in the U.S. have weak numeracy skills. To combat this, Saal and her team recommend a number of policies aimed at improving adult education. Among these recommendations are adding numeracy programming to workforce development curricula and making “low levels of numeracy” an identified employment barrier under the Workforce Innovation and Opportunity Act the way that “low levels of literacy” is. Numeracy Skills Start Young While it’s good to acquire numeracy skills at any age, starting early saves on catch up time and lost employability. A 2010 study showed that early numeracy demonstrated in kindergarten predicts performance in first-grade math. Another study found similar results in home and preschool numeracy development’s effect on 3rd-grade performance. Yet another found that preschool numeracy has positive impacts throughout primary school. The research tells us that developing literacy early is paramount to lifetime success. Given that nearly one-third of adults in the US lack numeracy skills, it’s apparent that the school system alone is insufficient for ensuring numeracy. JEI’s Math program, as well as our more advanced Problem Solving Math enrichment program, can set your child up for a future of numeracy and all the benefits that come with it. To get your child started, find a JEI Learning Center near you!
Summertime lunches don't have to be a headache!
Summer’s here and that means no more school lunches. The transition to providing your child a lunch doesn’t have to be a tough one. We talked to Ayelet Goldhaber, a registered dietitian at Hassenfeld Children’s Hospital at NYU Langone for her insight into providing food for your children during the summer months. Structure Is the Key One of the biggest obstacles to good nutrition over the summer is the likelihood of skipping meals, particularly lunch, as schedules become more flexible and unpredictable. Goldhaber recommends that parents avoid substituting snacks for lunch. “Structure is the key here,” Goldhaber says. “Kids of all ages, from infant to toddler to young adult do well when they know what to expect and when...Not only does lunch often get skipped in the summer, but we are more likely to give in to quick fixes like sugary snacks and drinks to pacify hungry kiddos on the go.” One helpful way to ensure that kids are getting a healthy lunch is to insist on a strict schedule for mealtimes. This ensures a degree of dietary continuity between school and summer. “The key is to always schedule a time for lunch,” Goldhaber explains, “even when activities and daily schedules are changing around you. This will maintain the expectation to eat, just like lunch period at school, and ensure healthy lunch remains a constant over the summer months.” Think in Parts One difficulty in preparing children’s lunches is coming up with what to serve them. Providing a variety of meals may seem like a daunting task, but Goldhaber recommends thinking in terms of parts of lunch rather than trying to plan a full meal. “It is always a good idea to pack a few options...ensuring at least some nutritious food gets in, even if not the whole lunch.” Goldhaber recommends foods that take little effort to prepare. Usually, these foods can be inexpensive. “Think cheese sticks, crust-less sandwiches with a protein-rich filling (nut butter, turkey), already sliced and peeled fruit, and fresh veggies with a fun dip.” Breaking a meal into options can help parents maintain diversity in what’s being served for lunch without much work or money. This approach can also make it easier to ensure that lunches are nutritionally complete. Watch out for Drinks One of the biggest spoilers to your child’s nutrition comes from sugary drinks, especially in the summer. Whether it be at camp, birthday parties, or barbecues, children are constantly being served sugary sodas, lemonades, and iced teas. Goldhaber recommends sticking to flavored water and seltzer for the kid who won’t drink plain water. She also recommends making homemade no sugar lemonade or iced tea with the kids. Preparing food items with your children will not only save you work, but it will also teach them how to prepare healthy food choices for themselves. Food Ideas for Summer One of the biggest difficulties in preparing children’s lunches is ensuring they get a balanced meal that represents all the food groups. To help you out, we have provided a list of healthy and easy to prepare food choices for those summer lunches. No prep - Cheese sticks - Bananas - Apples - Peaches - Apricots - Nectarines - Carrots - Yogurt - Grapes - Berries - Pretzels - Fruit cups -Applesauce -Nuts Little Prep - Celery sticks with peanut butter or cream cheese - Meat and cheese sandwich with lettuce and tomato - Peanut butter and jelly sandwich - Cheese and crackers - Oranges - Clementines - Hard-boiled eggs - Sliced cucumber - Melons - Mangoes One-Time Prep - Egg salad - Tuna salad - Potato salad - Coleslaw - Veggie dip - Hummus - Trail mix - Banana bread Beverage Ideas - Cucumber-lemon water - No-sugar lemonade - Iced tea - Strawberry-mint water - Fruit smoothies
Professor-turned-Director wants parents to work with JEI when preparing for college
Formerly a professor at the University of Pennsylvania and Stony Brook University, Director Jianping Schoolman discussed in an interview with JEI Learning Center the importance of the Self-Learning Method® for college, as well as how parents can take part in preparing their children for the future. She proved herself to be a big advocate of the Self-Learning Method® as it helps young children try to be responsible for their own learning without depending on others. “I just love JEI,” she said. “It propels the student to not just be good at academic learning but also to become a good and responsible person overall.” This sense of responsibility and independence, she believes, is necessary for kids to make it in college and in life. However, Jianping pointed out that JEI and the students could not reach success and discover potential alone--rather, parents are also an important player in this trifecta: I spend half the time talking to parents, explaining that they should let kids make mistakes, explore, and learn from their own hearts instead of pushing, pushing, and pushing them. From asking about 100 students [at the University of Pennsylvania], I saw that students try to please parents, especially as most kids I interviewed were Asian-American kids...Most parents pushed them when they were young to be the best they could be--they didn’t have a choice, so they don’t think for themselves [even in college]. Once they get to college, no one is there to push them, so they are lost. The students had often told Jianping during the interviews, “I don’t know what to do. My parents used to ask me to do this and that, but now, is this very important? Should I do this?” These students were full of questions and hoped someone would lead them and tell them what to think. She is concerned that college students today still do not know what to do after depending on their parents’ guidance all their lives. She told JEI, “It is likely the parents have done everything for the kids, so eventually when the kids go to college, [some] parents are like, ‘I don’t know. I don’t know college or what happens--you will have to figure it out on your own.’” On top of that, colleges are competitive and require students to make their own decisions and manage their own time. Jianping found that many students had not cultivated those skills when they were younger, leaving them to flounder helplessly as independent adults. To prevent this, Jianping often advises parents of young children, “Let the kids figure out their own way, find their own interests, and, as parents, just be there to support them to let them know their weaknesses and strengths.” Jianping also believes JEI Learning Center is the perfect place for children to develop those very skills: “JEI has such a good system to help the kids realize their own strengths and weaknesses, as well as manage their time. I think JEI is the best after-school program that any parent could ask for.” Thanks to Jianping for the kind words and her constant efforts to spread the Self-Learning Method to others for a brighter, better future. Find a center near you and see how you could help us prepare your child for college and adulthood with our many programs that promise long-term effects.