Math Instruction In The Classroom And The Challenges the Classroom Environment Has

Oct 18, 2017 | South Baton Rouge

Give Your Child the Gift of Time to Learn Math


What if your Work was Structured like Math in the Typical Classroom?

School is your children’s job. They spend a lot of time in class. Their success in learning affects their confidence and attitude. If math came easy for you, you might not understand how they feel.


Imagine your boss at work just assigned your team a challenging task. You take a deep breath and give yourselves a little pep talk. You remember that you accomplished something just as complicated last year. It took some time, but with hard work, and perseverance, the team ended up with a product you were proud of.


This time will be different. It will be structured more like a classroom math class. Your boss says, “You will be given one hour per day for a week to work on this task. If at the end of one week, you do not have the task completed you will get a poor evaluation. Then you will be given another, equally difficult task that builds upon your success of first task. We will continue adding more and more tasks for the next 13 years.”


You think, if you successfully complete each task, you will have no problem. But if you miss a few days of work or your concentration lapses a bit, you may not successfully complete a task. Yikes! Then you will be in “catch up mode” which is stressful. Or what if one task just takes more than five hours to complete? Remember every task builds on the success of the previous ones. How will you succeed at task 123 and beyond if you miss task 120-122?


Have you ever played the game Jenga™?  Remember how a tower can get taller and taller but weaker and weaker as more gaps are introduced. Eventually the whole tower falls down.

How would this scenario affect your motivation? Would you stay at your job?


How is this Scenario Like School?

By the time a child in Baton Rouge enters 2nd grade they have been in school for about 70 weeks. A typical math period lasts for one hour per day. In these 70 weeks these 5, 6, and 7 year-olds must master the foundational math skills they will use for the rest of their school careers. If they do not get a solid understanding of rote counting forward and backward in kindergarten, addition and subtraction in first grade will be almost impossible. What happens when children struggling to add and subtract go to second grade and get a lesson in adding and subtracting 3 digit numbers with “regrouping” or “carrying and borrowing?” How long until these precious children throw their little hands up in despair?


Design Limits of Schools affect Their Ability to Help Struggling Children Catch-Up in Math

Teachers do their best to address the needs of every student at each child’s level. This practice is called “differentiating instruction.” But consider the scenario of one teacher working with 30 unique, learners using a math curriculum provided by the district. The math curriculum probably progresses at the appropriate pace for 20 of the 30 kids. What happens to the 5 children that need extra time and instruction to process each skill? They fall farther and farther behind the standard math curriculum. The kids who need less time to master a skill start getting bored. Teachers do their best to differentiate instruction and adjust their instruction, but meeting the instructional needs of every child, in all subjects, every moment of the school day, is nearly impossible in the traditional school design.


Set Kids up for Success, not Failure

Difficult math concepts require hard work and time to understand. Complex, multi-step math problems require a child to concentrate and try several approaches. Giving kids time to really attack problems and try different approaches to concepts is critical to deep comprehension.  When they fully understand one foundational concept they are prepared to try more rigorous and complex problem solving skills. Then they advance to more abstract methods. Finally, they can start learning a new skill that builds on the previous skills. Each success builds their confidence in their math abilities.

In a classroom with 30 children, each working at their own pace, some of these steps get condensed or skipped over entirely. The result is that many kids, even children who grasp math concepts quickly, end up with gaps in their understanding.  That’s why at Mathnasium of South Baton Rouge we address learning gaps. When you publish article 3 in the series “Understanding Learning Gaps” come back and add a link here.


At Mathnasium of South Baton Rouge we are structured differently than the typical classroom. Each individual child sets the pace for their own instruction. We keep trying different approaches until we find the approach that works with your child’s unique learning needs.  In our center, children must show mastery in a concept before we introduce the next one. This structure reduces stress and anxiety. Our structured curriculum and individualized instruction prepares children for success. Then, instead of having a wobbly Jenga™ tower of skills, students have a solid foundation.


Our Method for Success

Step 1. A comprehensive no-risk assessment to identify any learning gaps and areas of strength.

Step 2. Create a customized learning plan based on the results of the assessment.

Step 3. Instruct a child in areas needing growth.

Step 4. A Mathnasium trained instructor models several ways to approach problems in a concept. Check for understanding along the way.

Step 5. We watch the child work, correcting and adapting the pace and instruction, as necessary.

Step 6. Give them more complex problems and let the child work on their own. We let them work on difficult concepts for a few minutes before we intervene. This independent time is important to children's’ confidence and degree of mastery for several reasons.

1.     When they are successful they have sense of pride and completion

2.     Working it out independently gives them deeper understanding.  

3.     The slight frustration improves recall for the future.

Step 7. Test for mastery.

Step 8. Adjust customized learning plan to target new areas.


This is a very different method than traditional tutors. For more information on that read our article on choosing a tutor for your chld.


Give your children the gift of time to really wrestle with math in a deep and meaningful way. The typical classroom in Baton Rouge is not structured in a way go at the pace of every individual child. We are structured that way.


Call Ryan Booth of Mathnasium of South Baton Rouge today at 225-753-MATH (6284)

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