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If your child cringes at the words “Math Minute” or “Rocket Math” he is not alone. For some students, timed math tests are 60 seconds of stress and anxiety that culminate in a completely blank mind. As they watch their peers fly through their worksheet, they are left to feel embarrassed, flustered and frustrated and wondering why they “just can’t remember” their math facts.
Soon that anxiety carries over from the Math Minute to their entire math period. And before you know it, a child who thought they were good at math begins to wonder whether they will be able to keep up with the class at all.
However speed is NOT a measure of math ability. In fact, some of the world’s most talented mathematicians work very slowly. Jo Boaler, professor at Stanford’s Graduate School of Education, asserts in her working paper “Fluency Without Fear” that memorization of math facts actually inhibits the development of number sense, the key driver of math success.
For example, she says that when asked to solve the problem 7 x 8, someone with number sense may have memorized 56, but they would also be able to use a strategy such as multiplying 10 x 7 and subtracting two 7s (70-14).
This is precisely the kind of strategies that we use to teach at Mathnasium. We make math make sense by helping students think creatively about numbers; to build them up and break them down in ways that your child’s school may not teach. Of course, this method appeals to students who love numbers. But it also appeals to students who struggle to keep math facts in their head because they no longer have to. We give them the skills to do math without relying on a calculator and without memorizing math facts and it opens new doors for them!
If you haven’t had a chance to learn about the Mathnasium method, we hope you’ll schedule an appointment for a visit. Your child CAN learn math, and we’re here to help.
Center Director, Mathnasium of Wildwood