We’ve all been there; high school math classes. To many of us, if we were not going to pursue math in our university education, the age-old question was asked to the teacher in the same protested grumble, “Why do we have to learn this if we aren’t going to need it when we graduate?” Well, maybe you won’t need to recount “SOH-CAH-TOA” in your everyday life, but granting your child the tools needed for them to love the learning curb that math is early on will propel them towards success in their mathematical endeavors and in life.
As a Calgary private school, Asasa Academy prioritizes ensuring that your child reaches a high academic achievement of excellence. We also aspire to merge some of life’s greatest lessons within learning. Having smaller class sizes, the foundational element of learning in courses like mathematics is emphasized. Math is an abstract subject, the elements of it aren’t as simple as learning and building upon a language. Sometimes, numbers and concepts do not flow as easily as words do. In written classes, answers can be analyzed and manipulated; there is more than one version of what is the “right” answer. However, in math, you’re either right or your wrong and there is no in-between. To add to this frustration, a student could be right, but one minor miscalculation and their answer still winds up with a big red X. Academic success takes root in the beginning of one’s early education through their confidence and love for the subject. To improve in math, a child can be praised for their efforts, but they must be able to differentiate that they made mistakes in order to grow. However, many children see these mistakes as “failures,” which lowers their self-confidence and motivation to pick themselves back up, their work ethic to understand the correct method and their incentive to again put themselves into the vulnerable position of failing. As such, what could be the love for math at a young age turns into a downward spiral of loathing the subject, and a child’s potential is limited.
Having seen this pattern, Asasa Academy strives for our students to love math, not by being perfect, but through developing a growth mindset at a young age. In doing so, our students realize that they might have made mistakes, but these mistakes aren’t looked at as a “failure.” Instead, they should instead be viewed as an opportunity to become better and focus on the process of understanding material. When a student realizes this and knows that a few incorrect answers does not determine their self-worth, their initial experience of math will change from one that is negative and perhaps traumatic, to one that is positive and inspirational.
Of course, these principles must be taught in order to be practiced. This mindset is imperative to build your child up for success, yet it is quite simple to ensure that it is being developed. Facilitating as a Calgary math school, Asasa Academy uses little, but effective techniques to build our student’s mathematical growth mindsets from the process of teaching the material to receiving the problem and finally, the after discussions.
The teachers at Asasa Academy, whether they be for junior kindergarten or grade six, pay special attention to not just what they teach, but how they teach it. Language is often overlooked when teaching, there may be innovative techniques and ways to teach math, but one cannot train a positive attitude if it is not modelled. When educating, our teachers use “think-aloud” methods to model the problem. If something is not going well when attempting a math question, it takes a growth mindset to recognize persevering. “Thinking aloud” allows one’s mind to calm down, take a breath and attempt the question in a revived manner.
As grade levels increase, so does the complexity of math. If you cannot figure out how to do a question, you will have to rely on going about it a different way. Giving problems to our students with only one correct answer is a traditional outlook on the math curriculum. However, providing problems to students with more than one route of getting the correct answer and having more than one right answer advocates the different thought patterns among students. It teaches a student that the greatest achievement in math is being able to problem solve, which then generates the correct answer.
Far too often math is taught and praised on speed rather than the idea of understanding the process. It is important for our students to complete their math questions within the standardized time, as this will be the case when they advance into higher grade levels. However, speed cannot be taught before the process of problem solving is. Because of this idea, it is important to remove an emphasis on speed. This allows students to verify their answers and if wrong, look for multiple ways of achieving another solution.
Adults do not think the same way as children and we never will. Confidence and teamwork is built among the class when students are given time to discuss amongst themselves their own strategies that they have realized for figuring out how to do a question. Quite often, peers will grasp what their classmate is saying and understand the concept in a way that speaks to their own language.
Lastly, a growth mindset in math cannot be built if students are not given the time to reflect on their work, understanding what they did wrong in order to see improvement next time. Errors should be discussed as a class for the student to realize that their mistakes are not uncommon. This also solidifies the success of their peers.
It is crucial for your child to receive an early education that will prepare them for academic achievement. Yet, it is just as imperative to build upon a growth mindset that will allow them to advance not only in math, but in the other areas of their life where making mistakes is vital to become better than the person you were yesterday. At Asasas’ private school, our teachers and staff know what is needed for an early love of math to blossom within your child. You can love math because that is the kind of career you wish to pursue, or you can love math because of the problem solving skills it derives. In any case, there is no reason your child should not appreciate math and developing a growth mindset for it is the first step in ensuring a motivation to constantly strive to persist and learn.