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Demystifying "Learning of Math"

 



 

Mathematics is a subject that evokes a range of emotions, from enthusiastic curiosity to paralyzing anxiety. An all-too-common understanding (or misunderstanding) of what learning of Mathematics entails is that, it is about memorizing and mastering steps, algorithms and multiplication tables. 


Recent research paints a rich picture of math learning, one that goes beyond rote memorization and emphasizes a deeper understanding. Here's what we're discovering:

 

It's about concepts, not just calculations. Math isn't a collection of isolated facts. It's a web of interconnected ideas. Studies by Stanford University's online learning course "How to Learn Math" emphasize the importance of grasping these big ideas. When students truly understand the "why" behind the equations, they can solve problems more effectively and apply their knowledge to new situations.


Practice makes perfect, but with understanding. While practice is undeniably crucial, research highlights the difference between mindless repetition and deliberate practice. Effective practice involves grappling with problems that challenge current understanding, not just repeating memorized steps. This way, students build a stronger foundation and develop the ability to solve novel problems.


Visualizations are powerful tools. Math isn't all about numbers. Various studies like those from Institute of Education Sciences (IES) acknowledge the power of visualization in grasping mathematical concepts. Diagrams, graphs, and other visual aids can bridge the gap between abstract ideas and concrete understanding.


It's a journey, not a destination. Learning math is an ongoing process, filled with moments of discovery and frustration. Research by Khan Academy underscores the importance of perseverance and a growth mindset. Students who view mistakes as opportunities to learn, rather than roadblocks, are more likely to develop a positive attitude towards math and keep striving for understanding.


At SAM, our curriculum and teaching methods are based on deep academic research. We call our curriculum the “Thinking” Math curriculum for a reason. 

 

  • We emphasize concepts over procedures. Our problems are carefully crafted to be not repetitive, but to push the student’s thinking just beyond their zone of comfort. 

 

  • Visualization is central to the way we teach children. From the very beginning we introduce the Concrete-Pictorial-Abstract (CPA) method, that help children visualize and understand.  Through our explicit teaching of heuristics, which includes Bar Modeling, we teach children to “draw” the problem out, preparing them for higher level problem solving and Algebra

 

  • Our teaching method is to ask probing questions which requires the children to articulate their understanding. We then guide their thinking through more probing questions so that they can discover the answers themselves.  Starting your child's academic journey early with SAM will equip them with critical thinking skills that will benefit them throughout their lives.


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