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How does Mathnasium address common core?

Feb 19, 2016

Are You a Parent Frustrated with Common Core Math Standards? 

Learning About the New Math Helps.

You aren’t alone. Lately, many parents in the North County have been scratching their heads in wonderment as they looked at their child’s math work. Even some teachers and educators are baffled by many of the changes in the way they have to teach math. Children just starting school don’t know math instruction any other way, but those in older grades suddenly are slammed with being asked to do longer and more complex problems than they ever had to do before. A lot of parents have asked us at Mathnasium, “What are Common Core Math Standards?” and “Why is math suddenly being taught differently?”

Common Core State Standards in Math (CCSSM) were adopted by California in 2014. CCSS set guidelines and criteria to help educators know what lessons to include in the curriculum. As an example, a 4th grade math standard is “Use the four operations with whole numbers to solve problems.” It is up to the school district and educators to decide how to teach fourth graders to add, subtract, multiply and divide to solve problems.

Change is the Source of Frustration

Let’s pretend the state created life skills standards for parents to follow.  A standard would be something like this:

“A 5 year old will learn to dress herself independently.”

The parent would know to include ways to fasten shoes and clothes on the curriculum. Finally lessons would be created and taught on buttoning, zipping, snapping, tying, buckling, and straps.

But what if the standards changed? The new ones would say:

“5 year old children have to know how to dress themselves independently AND explain why they chose certain clothes AND describe their approach to fastening.”

Not only that, but they would mandate some unorthodox ways to explain these basic actions.   Your lessons would have to change to so your child could meet the new standards. You would have to include lessons you didn’t have to include before. Let’s say your child has been successfully meeting the standards for 5 years before the change. Now they are being asked to explain and describe tasks when before they just had to do the tasks. After years of teaching and learning under one set of standards, expect some struggles as everyone adapts to the new criteria.

So What Changed with the New Common Core Math Standards?

The standards aim to teach deep mathematical thinking and to prepare children for 21st century jobs. From Kindergarten to 12th grade there were 3 key shifts in the math standards.

  1. Each concept will be taught in more depth to build a solid understanding. Students must be able apply math skills to solve complex problems.
  2. Math concepts build on each other in progression and new learning must be integrated with previous instruction.
  3. Students will grasp key concepts and procedural skills and be able to apply these procedural skills and conceptual understanding to a variety of problems.

In short, children will have a deeper understanding of all math and not just follow a series of steps to arrive at an answer. The problem is learning how to achieve the goals. This is difficult and switching a paradigm of thinking is even harder.

What Does that Mean for My Child?

Children who entered kindergarten in 2014 or later, started their schooling with the new standards and will probably be better prepared for future grades. Children who entered kindergarten before 2014 have to change the way they think about math. Parents who help their children will have to shift the way they help their children. Parents can’t rely on just showing a child the tricks they learned in school. Today’s children are being asked to think on a deeper level and apply math differently and explain their thinking.

Since mathematical thinking builds from one grade to another, tenth graders are now struggling to meet standards because they lack the mathematical foundation for achieving them. Even second graders lack the vocabulary and higher order thinking skills in math needed to transition to the current rigorous standards. Many students in the North County are struggling to adapt. Right answers aren’t enough if they can’t explain how they got it or why they approached it a certain way. Parents don’t have the tools to help them.

What Can Parents in North County Do to Help Their Children Succeed with the Common Core?

After conferences and report cards, parents are often dismayed to learn their child needs math remediation. Parents are further frustrated by not understanding what their child is being asked to do. Parents can look at the new standards and ask the teachers for help. Sometimes the school district or the school has parent education nights explaining topics in math. Those are valuable opportunities. Unfortunately, few parents have time to learn the new standards.

How Mathnasium Helps

At Mathnasium of Issaquah, we understand the core standards. We know what typically frustrates children in different grade levels as they attempt to transition. Our extensive, no-risk assessment uncovers any gaps in their mathematical foundation. Then we take the time to explain to the parent and child exactly where the child is struggling.

If you come to us for instruction, we address each gap in conceptual understanding and number sense. We use many approaches to replace misconceptions with solid understanding. We go at the pace of each individual child. The child’s confidence and ability to perform high-level tasks skyrockets. After getting instruction at Mathnasium, 89% of parents report that their children’s attitude towards math improved (6% said their children already loved it).

Children learn math in different ways and at different speeds. Some children have a learning style that doesn’t fit well with the traditional classroom. Others need more repetition or kinesthetic experiences than the school offers. At Mathnasiusm of Poway, we teach each child using the approach that makes sense to that child. We go at the pace of each student, so they experience success not frustration.

Call now to set up your free trial class

(425) 270-1054