News from Mathnasium of Tallahassee
Video: Building Your Child’s Successful Math Education Plan: Awareness, Understanding, Mastery
Sep 25, 2018
At Mathnasium of Tallahassee, parents often tell us their child has done well in previous math classes, but is now struggling in their current math studies. We explain math builds on earlier concepts. Today’s struggle is likely related to a fundamental gap in earlier math skills. There may be concepts the child may have earned an A or B on in a previous class, but they may not have entirely mastered the topic. Unfortunately, some parents seem resistant to the idea of re-visiting those concepts.
It’s important to understand, while a student may have scored an A or B in school, they may not have fully mastered the math skill and may understand just enough to pass a test. Passing one math test does not guarantee the ability to apply the concept at the next level.
Whether it's working with a math tutor, studying for a math test, or completing math homework, our recent interview regarding the stages of math learning shares advice on how to find success. Watch the video and read more below.
Learning math, like any other activity, takes patience and regular practice. If you were training for a 5K run, successfully completed the run and then did no other training for an extended period of time, would you be able to successfully complete another 5K right out the gate? Of course not. It takes ongoing training and skill improvement. Just because you did it once, doesn’t mean you’ve achieved mastery.
When it comes to math in school, parents often pay too much attention to what grade a skill is related to -- “Oh, that’s from fifth grade, I need them to learn Algebra…” -- versus focusing on the importance of the concept and the need to learn it, regardless of grade level.
If a student is in Algebra 1, and exhibits the following gaps in their math foundation:
- finger counts to do simple multiplication facts
- is unable to work with fractions with uncommon denominators
- doesn’t understand the difference between a greatest common factor and lowest common multiple
Instead of being distracted by grades or grade levels, it’s important to step back and say: “This math topic needs to be mastered, and with mastery of these skills today, tomorrow’s math will be less of a struggle.”
Our advice to parents: don’t get hung up on the when a student should have learned something, simply recognize they need to master it to make their math abilities better for today and beyond.
In math, and in education overall, there are three stages in the learning process: awareness, understanding, and mastery.
As new math topics are introduced at any age, whether it’s counting, multiplication, fractions, angles or polynomials, the first stage is Awareness.
In math class a new concept is introduced. The student is now aware of the skills necessary to successfully complete the concept, what they will need to learn to achieve this and what they need practice to improve. During this stage, it’s possible for students with gaps in their math education to become frustrated with homework because they are unable to grasp the new concept. No doubt, mistakes will be made, but it’s important stay focused and positive. Often with the help of math tutoring and extra practice, the student will begin to see progress.
As the student works through and practices new concepts, they transition to Understanding. Math homework becomes less of a challenge and understanding can be demonstrated on their math tests. While their confidence is improving, they must continue to practice because the student is not able to achieve it with automaticity.
In this stage, complacency can emerge because students (and parents) can feel that after completing math homework, practicing with a math tutor, and passing classroom, FSA, EOC or grade level placement math tests, the student has “learned” the material. However, ongoing preparation for the next stage is still needed.
The final stage in the learning process is Mastery. At this part of the process, the student can take the math concept and apply it readily, not only for the current class, but then as the foundation for new math topics in the school years that follow.
Students attaining mastery should continue to practice skills to prevent lapses in their abilities. Often at Mathnasium of Tallahassee, when our math instructors and tutors first meet with a student we hear: “I know I saw that before, but I don’t remember it now.” That’s a sure sign, regardless of whether the student achieved understanding or mastery of a skill previously, it is no longer a concept the student could easily recall for math homework or during their math class.
Grades in a math class from previous years do not guarantee a student has truly mastered a math skill. In their journey from awareness to understanding to mastery, students can find success on their homework and tests, but if pain points emerge in new concepts, do not assume it’s simply related to the new math. It’s likely the student will need to revisit earlier skills and concepts to help them achieve mastery and success.
Mathnasium has two Leon County locations. In addition to our Bannerman Crossings location, our new math learning center in the Mahan Village Shopping Center, at the corner of Mahan and Capital Circle NE, is now open.
|Sun||1:30 to 5:30 PM|
|Mon||2:15 to 7:30 PM|
|Tues||2:15 to 7:30 PM|
|Wed||2:15 to 7:30 PM|
|Thurs||2:15 to 7:30 PM|
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