After putting on your math lenses, look around the room and look for opportunities for “power-chats”  incorporating math ideas.  Not every verbal exchange about numbers is necessarily powerful, and a power-chat should raise the child’s level of thinking but should not be on a level that is too high. Here are a few general pointers on what power chats should be like.


How-To for Power-Chats Power-Connect Questions[1]

(to connect with the child’s thinking)


·        Construct a math scenario/situation related to a child’s interests

·        Don’t make it too easy or too difficult, but raise the thinking level whenever it seems appropriate.[2]

·        At some point (perhaps even at the onset of the chat), let the child take the lead.

·        Make errors occasionally and see if the child catches them.

·        Continue only if the child is having fun.

·        What do you suppose would happen if…?

·        What will you do next?

·        I wonder…

·        How can we check to see how close your guess is?

·        Why do you think that?

·        How did you figure that out?

·        Do you have any ideas about how we might begin?


[1] This list is adapted  from Family Math for Young Children (Coates & Stenmark, 1997)

[2]  This description summarizes the concept of one of Vygotsky’s Zones of Proximal Development.



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