By: Chloe LeMoine
As the new year has quickly approached once again, making sure your student is on track, is prepared for the school year, and has all the materials to set their child up for success is important. This tends to raise a common question for parents.
Is a calculator really needed for my child for school?
Many schools allow students to use calculators, however Mathnasium only allows students who are in middle school or high school to use calculators for homework. At a younger age, Mathnasium recommends that the best way for younger students to develop math skills is to use paper and solve problems in their head and on paper. If students were to start using calculators at a young age they can miss out on understanding many different skills: number sense, numerical fluency, and reasoning. Oftentimes, students are typically allowed to use calculators when they reach middle school. Colleges are starting to ban calculator usage in order to improve students’ math concepts, as well as many important different tests: different sections of the SAT, PSAT, SSAT, state exams, etc.
As students get into more challenging courses, they are more likely to be able to use calculators for multi-step problems and equations. Since there are already many steps to the problems, students usually are allowed to use a calculator to calculate any final steps or long division to save time. Although the use of calculators is very common, Mathnasium promotes having students work through mathematical problems without calculators. A center owner stated, “We, as Mathnasium, do not have these challenges, at least not in the obligatory ways that schools do. Our focus is on teaching the math, helping kids understand it, helping them learn it in a way that makes sense to them. Using a calculator when there is learning to be done is contrary to that purpose.”
As students learn more skills and develop a deeper understanding of mathematical concepts, it’s important to understand that having a calculator will help you solve math problems, however, understanding what you are putting into the calculator is crucial. “I think many students don’t understand that a calculator can only be right when the input is right. Thus, when they get something wrong, they blame their calculator,” a Mathnasium center owner said. Mathnasium helps students work through a diverse amount of problems and helps students work through any errors they may come across in their work.
Although schools have many responsibilities and obligations that lead them to provide calculator accommodations to students, Mathnasium promotes students to work through their math work without depending entirely on calculators.
To get your child started at Mathnasium, call us to schedule a free assessment.