Finding the Right Math Program for Each and Every day!

Everyday Math2Sometimes children come to school either not liking math or not fully understanding math concepts. This can easily be remedied by using an engaging, hands on math program.

Last year there was a young student starting in 2nd grade; let’s call her Annie.  Annie’s parents said that at her old school she had hated math and was exhibiting anxiety when having to do math both at school and at home. When asked what Annie specifically did not like about math, her parents said the program at her old school focused a lot of attention on the memorization of facts. The kind of program teachers often refer to as “Drill & Kill” because students are constantly doing timed testing and it is as if the fun has been leached away.

After meeting Annie, it was clear she was a bright girl and would have no problem with a math program that was more engaging and emphasized conceptual learning as much as fact acquisition. She started the year eager to learn. As the fall went by, Annie continued to embrace the activities and games of a more holistic math program with energy and enthusiasm. She was frequently the first child to start and always wanted to do extra work. So, what was the difference? Perhaps this program was simply a better fit for Annie. She is a bright girl who loves to learn. By making math fun, interesting and applying it to real life situations, math can be more like a game than a chore. Quality math programs expertly incorporate real world scenarios, hands on activities and manipulatives into the curriculum.  Learning math is fun, challenging and always something new.

One such program to consider is the Everyday Math Program. It was developed by the University of Chicago School Mathematics Project Center for Elementary Mathematics and Science in 1983 and was most recently updated in 2012. Today nearly 3 million children worldwide use this program.

5 Components to Consider in a Math Program:everyday math3

  1. Above Grade Level– Look for a challenging program where students could be a grade ahead of their local public school contemporaries graduating in 8th grade having completed Algebra I which many students take in 9thgrade.
  2. Strong Math Foundation – Research the rationales behind the math program and look for one developed around brain research. These programs use natural short and long-term memory to help children learn math. They also connect mathematical concepts to one another so children easily grasp new ideas and can see how they directly relate to each other. For example, fractions, decimals, percent and money are all different ways of expressing the same thing: ¼ = .25 = 25% = $ 0.25.
  3. Math Made Easy with Games – It is important to find a math program that is designed for all children who are naturally math smart as well as children who have excellent language skills or logical ability. Children understand not only pencil and paper math but also conceptual math, the rationale behind the numbers. This helps them apply their knowledge to new problems. And the games act as re-enforcement.  Look for a program that incorporates games into the learning. Everyday Math is a great example, having developed many games that codify learning and kids love them. There is Multiplication Baseball, Beat the Calculator, Battleship using the X/Y coordinates, and Landmark Shark.  Suddenly it no longer seems like ‘math’ when it is a game!
  4. Everyday Applications – It is critical that a good math program engage children. One way is to create problems based on actual real life applications. Children might be asked to estimate and go ‘shopping.’  They could money into vending machines and have to provide change. They answer story problems about sharing food or traveling in the car.
  5. Holistic Approach – Quality math curriculum teach in a spiral, introducing concepts that come around and around year after year. Children as young as Kindergarten and 1st grade learn about geometry and algebra is introduced as early as 2nd grade. This is done in subtle, age appropriate and interesting ways- children make figures out of shapes, fill in blanks representing the ‘x’. Children become familiar with these concepts so later on they can easily build on that knowledge without anxiety.
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