News & Blog

A Review of Our LS Math Curriculum

Posted on April 8th, 2016

One of our Lower School initiatives this year has been to review our math curriculum. A committee of teachers was charged with the task of reviewing our current math program Everyday Math (EM), and determining what changes need to be made to ensure that we continue using the most up to date math program and instructional practices available. EM has been around for thirty years, has proven to be effective and successful, seeks to expand a student’s mathematical proficiency and understanding, and builds powerful mathematical thinkers. Based on our experience and success with EM, as well as considering their line of products and resources, we have chosen the EM Version 4 for our math program, starting in August. If you’d like to learn more about the EM program, click here

The EM curriculum emphasizes:

  • Use of concrete, real-life examples that are meaningful and memorable as an introduction to key mathematical concepts
  • Repeated exposures to mathematical concepts and skills to develop children’s ability to recall knowledge from long-term memory
  • Frequent practice of basic computation skills to build mastery of procedures and quick recall of facts, often through games and verbal exercises
  • Use of multiple methods and problem-solving strategies to foster true proficiency and accommodate different learning styles

We are also excited about students having electronic/digital access to most of the EM resources, including journals and reference books. Teachers will receive training during our teacher workshop days in August for the use of the new EM program. While EM is our core math program, our teachers will continue to supplement their teaching with a variety of resources to ensure that all students’ math needs are met. Some of these resources include IXL, Sumdog, and Marcy Cook Math activities.

Math skills continue to be one of the foundational anchors of a child’s education. As educators, we not only want students to understand the basic facts and algorithms, but also to have the tools to be creative problem solvers. Lately, I’ve been reading a number of articles on “math anxiety.” Math anxiety occurs when stress about math becomes overwhelming. The stressors can include: slower performance than peers; insufficient or inappropriate instruction; history of failures or bad experiences with math; stereotypes based on culture or gender; or having a math disability.

Math anxiety can be addressed through a strong math curriculum, teacher sensitivity to each child’s understanding and development, finding the balance of resources to meet each child’s particular needs, and creating a positive math environment at school and at home. It’s important that parents encourage, support, and provide experiences that foster a healthy math aptitude and attitude with their children. Sometimes, a parent’s aversion or disinterest in math is communicated unintentionally. One article described it this way; if you have a prejudice against math, it will show. If you didn’t do well with math in school, or you don’t like math in general, what are you communicating to your child? Our goal as teachers and parents is to demonstrate positive feelings about math, regardless of our experiences, especially if they were negative. We all need to be on the same page. We all need to share positive messages about math and provide activities that stimulate a love of numbers!

On a personal note, we were fortunate as parents; one of our children far surpassed us in regards to math understanding and application, graduating from college with a physics degree. Our experience is proof that children can aspire and achieve more than their parents if we work together to create an engaging and positive environment for critical thinking and learning!

Sincerely,

Tom Sauter
Head of Lower School

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