The purpose of the Spirit of Math International Contest is for students to have an enjoyable experience and learn how to write a mathematics contest. It is also meant to encourage a little contest between the students.
While you review the results of your child’s contest, please keep in mind that these questions are meant to be challenging and – unlike an exam – the contest questions may not directly reflect everything they have learned in their day school.
What is the Meaning of a Challenge?
Regardless of what score your child gets, first ensure to discuss with them the meaning of a “challenge”. “Why would we want to give you a challenge?” Sometimes children will answer that it is so that they can learn more, but then you need to say something like, “you can learn a lot just by sitting in front of a T.V. and watching it for a couple of hours. Is that challenging?”.
You want to have them realize that it is to prepare them for the future, so that they have the skills needed to solve problems and deal with other life challenges. Explain that a child will only develop a strong sense of confidence if they are given opportunities that are tough. When they see that they can indeed do the “tough stuff”, then their confidence improves.
Inspire Confidence in your Child
Part of Spirit of Math’s mission statement is to inspire confidence. Parents need to also have confidence in their children if they are to succeed. Your goal is to help them achieve success. Let them know that you believe they can rise to the challenge that is before them.
Discuss with your child the feelings they might have experienced – feeling a little over challenged, not being able to get help from the teacher when they did not understand a question, excitement when they did get the questions, etc. It is important that you spend time on this topic and relate it to what the students experience and thus why it is important to continue even if it is rather tough. It is also important that the parents “feel” what the students are “feeling”.
Letting them Know their Score
It is important that your child understands that not only should they be proud of themselves for taking on this challenge, but that their final score is only part of the experience. The important take away is that they are building the life skills to face challenges, step out of their comfort zone, and proactively bettering themselves through these experiences. So whether they received a perfect score, or only got a few questions correct, approach the situation with positivity and show them you are proud of them. Discuss next steps, and how they can keep challenging themselves and improving for the future.
Many young people have lost their fear of mathematics, and have found that they approach the learning of mathematics with excitement simply from being challenged in appealing ways.
We sincerely hope your children enjoyed writing the Spirit of Math International Contests, and we look forward to seeing you next year!