Choose the Right Summer Math Program for Your Child

By Mathnasium | April 9, 2018

When summer hits, academic skills start to slip. In fact, studies show that children lose as much as three months of their math skills over the summer, which can result in lower self-confidence, and a lower chance of success when school starts back up in the fall. One of the best ways to prevent summer learning loss is through summer camps that combine academics and fun!

Plenty of summer math learning programs are available to assist kids who need or want stronger math skills. Comparing them, though, is like comparing apples to bananas: They’re in the same category but aren’t at all the same. They may all sound great in their advertisements, but how do you choose which summer math program is truly the best fit for your child?

Yippee! April is Math and Stats Awareness Month!

By Mathnasium | April 2, 2018

Calling math enthusiasts everywhere! April is Mathematics and Statistics Awareness Month. Now’s the time to increase the understanding and appreciation of both sciences! You’ll find fun and fascinating math- and stat-related events around the country—workshops, competitions, exhibits, festivals, lectures, symposia, department open houses, math art exhibits, math poetry readings, math comedy, even some official proclamations by local politicians.

But let’s start with some simple definitions. Mathematics is the study of wholes and parts, and the relationship between them. Statistics, a branch of applied mathematics, collects and analyzes numerical data in large quantities, especially for inferring proportions in a whole from a representative sample.

Statistics is enjoying an especially high profile today, thanks to the advent of “Big Data,” which involves analyzing huge data sets for insights to help make better business decisions.

The Joint Policy Board for Mathematics (JPBM), which added “Statistics” to its Mathematics Awareness Month in 2017, says it best:

‘Both subjects play a significant role in addressing many real-world problems–internet security, sustainability, disease, climate change, the data deluge, and much more. Research in these and other areas is ongoing, revealing new results and applications every day in fields such as medicine, manufacturing, energy, biotechnology, and business. Mathematics and statistics are important drivers of innovation in our technological world, in which new systems and methodologies continue to become more complex.’

April is a time to celebrate the diverse researchers and students in these fields who are contributing so much to furthering discoveries, solving problems, and finding beauty in our world. It also underscores the importance of math education at all levels. From our perspective, it’s especially important to help children learn to understand and to love math, so that they have the potential to grow into adults who can understand and contribute to the world through math.

Check your local listings for a Mathematics and Statistics Awareness Month program near you!

“Wholes and Parts” (Number Sense Series, Part 2)

By Mathnasium | March 13, 2018

Number Sense is the ability to appreciate the size and scale of numbers in the context of the question at hand. Three elements establish Number Sense: Counting, Wholes and Parts, and Proportional Thinking. We already introduced Counting in Part 1 of our Number Sense Series. Today, we will focus on Wholes and Parts.

The two aspects of the concept of Wholes and Parts form the backdrop for many mathematical concepts: fractions and complements.

Artist Hillel Smith: Using Math to Create Art

By Mathnasium | February 12, 2018

Every single day, Hillel Smith uses math to create art. It’s not “fractal art” or computer-driven design. He simply needs math to produce the art itself—everything from huge outdoor murals to inflatable sculptures. 

“At a basic level, having an understanding of geometry is practical, making things at a size that can be framed, or knowing how far a can of paint will go,” he said. “The challenge is working with projects that require a higher level of art thinking, such as my pixelated pieces and some of the mural projects. I do a lot of ‘solving for X,’ dimension analysis, ratios and proportions, fractions, and unit conversions.”

Math Is More Than Numbers

By Mathnasium | January 8, 2018

Using Math to Improve Important Life Skills

On the surface, math may seem like it’s all about numbers and formulas. However, this versatile subject is about much more than just counting, adding, and subtracting. Discover why math is more than numbers, and find out how it contributes to the development of valuable skills in problem solving, critical thinking, language, and more.

Getting Past Counting on Fingers and Toes

By Mathnasium | January 17, 2017

When very young children first learn how to count, they use their fingers as manipulatives (physical objects used to teach math concepts).

However, many kids continue to rely on their fingers as their primary computation tools once they move on to mastering addition and subtraction. It is at this juncture that finger counting becomes problematic. While this computation method can be effective to an extent when working with small numbers, it ultimately stifles a child’s mathematical development by keeping them in the limiting headspace of one-by-one counting.

As such, finger counters soon find that this technique quickly becomes cumbersome, inefficient—and more often than not, inaccurate—once they start working with bigger numbers.

It is far more effective in the long term to encourage students to develop numerical fluency. What is numerical fluency? It’s a student’s ability to recall basic number facts mentally and effortlessly by way of developing frameworks for learning. For instance, a fundamental cornerstone of numerical fluency is learning to see and work with numbers in groups mentally rather than one by one.

Let’s look at some examples of numerical fluency in action!

9 + 7

A one-by-one counter attempts to solve this by figuring out “9 + 1 + 1 + 1 + 1 + 1 + 1 + 1.” By contrast, a student who has developed numerical fluency (and therefore, a broader understanding of the relationships between numbers and how numbers work) solves this problem mentally by working with a friendlier number, in this case, 10:

9 + 1 = 10

10 + 6 = 16

(As one-by-one counters develop numerical fluency, they’ll discover very quickly that the number 10 is their friend!)

Let’s try 7 + 8!

Instead of thinking, “7 + 1 + 1 + 1 + 1 + 1 + 1 + 1 + 1,” a numerically fluent child sees that 8 is one more than 7 and can default to the strategy of doubling 7 and adding 1:

7 + 7 = 14

14 + 1 = 15

Let’s do one more!

13 – 9

In this situation, our friend, the number 10, comes in handy once again! How far apart are 13 and 9? Well, 9 is 1 away from 10, and 13 is 3 away from 10. Add the differences together and you get the answer, 4. This is far more efficient than thinking, “13 – 1 – 1 – 1 – 1 – 1 – 1 – 1 – 1 – 1”!

When children transition to techniques beyond using their fingers for computation, their confidence with counting and numbers in general will grow exponentially, and their ability to handle larger numbers effortlessly will follow. As time progresses and they bid farewell to basic addition and subtraction practice, numerically fluent students will find it easier to tackle more complex operations like multiplication and division. While building numerical fluency won’t happen overnight (it requires steady, consistent practice working with these frameworks over time), students will continuously reap the benefits of becoming stronger, more nimble problem solvers and mathematical thinkers … long after they close the books on elementary math!

Achieving numerical fluency is a critical step on the path toward developing solid number sense—an intuitive, logical understanding of how numbers work. Mathnasium offers personalized programs designed to help students of all ages develop numerical fluency. Contact your neighborhood math experts to learn more!

Great Gifts for Math Lovers, Teachers, and Smart Folk of All Ages

By Mathnasium | December 8, 2016

We all have that one person in our lives who’s impossible to buy for. What do you get for the person who has everything? Stress no more! Whether you’re looking for holidays, birthdays, Mother’s Day, Father’s Day, Teacher Appreciation, or just because, these fun and clever gifts will thrill the recipient, and give them a sophisticated way to express their inner nerd. 

Exercises to Improve Beginner Math Skills: Counting and Grouping

By Mathnasium | April 26, 2016

Many times, when students of all ages come to Mathnasium in need of math help, their math troubles can be traced back to a lack of number sense—an intuitive grasp of how numbers work! What’s the first step to gaining number sense? Well, the most basic skills in mathematics involve counting and grouping (seeing numbers in groups). When mathing with your kids, try the exercises outlined below. While they may seem easy at first glance, these exercises are anything but child’s play. They’re appropriate for any person of any age who needs help gaining fluency in basic math skills. The trick is to do these exercises mentally—with little to no writing. However, using pictures as visual aids and real-world objects (counters, coins, blocks, raisins, etc.) as manipulatives can make math come alive!

Counting:

To develop counting skills, help your child learn to count from any number, to any number, by any number!

  • Count by 1s, starting at 0 (0, 1, 2, 3, … 250…)

… then starting at any number (28, 29, 30…)

  • Count by 2s, starting at 0 (0, 2, 4, 6, 8… 24…)

… then starting at 1 (1, 3, 5… 25)

… then starting at any number (23, 25, 27… 49 …)

  • Count by 10s, starting at 0 (0, 10, 20 … 500 …)

… then starting at 5 (5, 15, 25 … 205 …)

… then starting at any number (37, 47, 57, 67 … 347 …)

  • Count by 1/2s , starting at 0 (0, ½, 1, 1 ½, … 5 …)

… then by 1/4s, starting at 0 (0, ¼, 2/4 or ½, ¾, 4/4 or 1, 1 ¼ …)

… then by 3/4s, starting at 0 (0, ¾, 1 ½, 2 ¼, 3 …)

  • Count by 15s, starting at 0 (0, 15, 30 … 120 …)
  • Count by 3s, 4s, 6s, 7s, 8s, 9s, 11s, 12s, 20s, 25s, 50s, 75s, 100s, and 150s, starting at 0.

Can you see how this type of counting practice will, in time, result in strong addition skills and the painless mastery of times tables?

Grouping:

To help your child strengthen number sense, expand their thinking processes and help them see numbers in groups! Ask questions like:

  • “7 and how much more make 10?” “70 and how much more make 100?” “700 and how much more make 1,000?”
  • “10 and how much more make 15?” “10 and how much more make 18?” “10 and how much more make 25?”
  • “17 and how much more make 20?” “87 and how much more make 100?” “667 and how much more make 1,000?”
  • “How far is it from 6 to 10?” “How far is it from 89 to 100?” “How far is it from 678 to 1,000?”
  • “How many 10s are there in 70? …100? …200? …340? … 500? … 1,000? … 10,000? … 1,000,000 … a quadrillion (15 zeroes!)?”
  • “How many 4-person teams can you make out of 12 kids? … 20 kids? … 50 kids? … 100 kids?”
  • “How much is 5, four times? … ten times? … a hundred times? … a thousand times?”

Notice how these questions focus on the number 10, multiples of 10, and powers of 10. Also, these questions are a great way to introduce multiplication and division concepts before your child encounters them in school!

Which techniques do you use when you math with your child at home?