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The Real Reason Math Curriculum is Failing Your Child
Jul 15

The Real Reason Math Curriculum is Failing Your Child

By Elephant Learning | Curriculum

Does your child enjoy math class? When you see them doing their math homework, does it feel like they don’t really get the concepts? Do they appear to blindly apply strategies they’ve been taught in class to solve their homework problems? 

In the classroom, many children are unable to develop a solid math foundation due to the typical way math is taught. The good news is, you can remedy this issue at home by simply looking at math instruction through a new lens — so that your child goes into the classroom prepared to take on mathematical challenges.

Instruction vs. Experience

Teachers are accustomed to teaching mathematics through instruction. It’s not that this strategy is incorrect; it’s simply the most practical strategy to employ when standing in front of a classroom full of students. 

When a student doesn’t get a math concept, a teacher may then instruct the students on ‘how’ to solve a problem with a step-by-step procedure to memorize and use. 

The issue with this is, strategies are better discovered than memorized. If your child simply memorizes a strategy, can you be sure they truly understand the concept and language, even if they can get the right answer?

Think of it this way: You can’t really instruct a child on what the color red is. You can show a child red objects and you can label them as red, but you can’t necessarily tell them what red is. Even if you read the definition of “red” in the dictionary, your child still won’t understand what red is without seeing and experiencing the color for themselves.

In the same way, how do you describe addition to a child? “5+4” means “Give me five objects; give me four more objects; now how many do I have?” If a student has not had the experience of this simple activity, the only thing that can be done, besides going back to ensure the fundamentals are understood, is to memorize the answers.

After all, there is a test coming up!

Imagine walking into a third-year lecture in organic biochemistry (or, if you are a biochemist, a third-year lecture in graduate mathematics). The lecture is full of jargon. One university student I know described it as “It sounds like they are speaking English, but I have no idea what they are saying!” 

This is what three out of four elementary students experience in math class. Children are being tested on the materials they don’t understand. Memorization is the only strategy that appears to work!

Eventually, this process will fail. If the prior math concepts were not understood, memorization as a strategy for passing homework and tests no longer works when they get into more advanced mathematics curriculum such as algebra.

For many parents, they never understand that this — the mere memorization of procedures to solve problems without any understanding to back it up — is what’s happening with their child. There is no idea of what their child may be going through in the classroom. 

Children learn math through logic and reasoning. Just like with the colors, the best way to have children understand math is by giving a child mathematical experiences at his or her level and then placing the language around it. 

By doing this, your child discovers strategies and procedures for solving math problems, rather than just memorizing some answers. This is how they build intuition and problem-solving skills.  

Setting Your Child Up for Success

We can’t blame this issue entirely on the school system and teachers. Research shows if children come into kindergarten understanding mathematical concepts, then the U.S. school system produces great students. 

That’s where working with your child at home gives them a huge advantage. In nearly every study on education, outcomes are vastly improved when parents are involved in the learning process. 

Being able to effectively teach my child mathematics at home is the reason I created the Elephant Learning platform. Not only does it simultaneously teach and evaluate, but based on the evaluations, we provide valuable feedback to parents on how to make further progress outside of the app with fun activities such as board games. 

Helping your child understand math concepts at home is not about instruction or showing them how to solve problems. For example, the Elephant Learning app does not “instruct.” We define, and we give students math experiences that help them comprehend math concepts.

It goes back to the concept of teaching “red”. It’s giving the child the experiences of “red” versus giving them a definition of “red” that helps them truly understand what the color is and how to recognize it. The same can be said for math. 

When parents use Elephant Learning as directed, we receive testimonials from parents raving about how their children have become more confident. They do better on tests and actually enjoying math class because they finally understand the teacher’s instructions. 

Without this kind of support, children with math anxiety, unfortunately, become adults with math anxiety. 

Valuable Skills Your Child Learns in Math That They Can’t Learn Anywhere Else
Apr 16

Valuable Skills Your Child Learns in Math That They Can’t Learn Anywhere Else

By Elephant Learning | Math Readiness

If you caught my last post, you already know how math determines your child’s success in seemingly unrelated academic areas and in their future career.

Now I want to dig deeper into the more specific skills and concepts a child learns when they’re truly understanding math (versus just memorizing some facts), that can then help them in all areas of life.

When you have a mental tool like math, it really can change the way you think about everything thing else.

Related: How Math Determines Your Child’s Overall Success

Logic: The Secret to Your Child’s Success

I mentioned analytical skills and problem-solving, but what are some examples of this?

Personally, I saw math develop my own analytical skills in high school, during a time when I wasn’t even pursuing math as a career. I had just found my way into computer programming and that math-based field was teaching me math skills in ways I, at the time, didn’t even realize.

At the same time that I was taking computer programming in high school, I was also involved in speech and debate. I’m 100 percent sure that the logic I learned from computer programming affected my performance in this extracurricular. It gave me the precision and logic necessary to poke holes in the opposition’s arguments and do so in a succinct way that easily led to victories for my debate team.

The precision and logic that stems from math is irrefutable; math is just facts. When you learn the facts for math specifically, the logic and precision skills stick around, playing in the background when you take on other mental challenges and need to formulate an argument or a theory with the best chances of irrefutable correctness.

The Life-Long Benefits of a Good Math Foundation

Children who grasp mathematical reasoning at an early age go on to use their reasoning and logic skills to better both their careers and their worlds.

In one study, two cohorts of 13-year-olds in the top 1 percent of mathematical reasoning ability were followed throughout their lives. After 40 years had passed, those students with the highest mathematical reasoning skills had gone on to accomplish incredible things.

Across the nearly 1,700 students, they had…

  • Published 85 books
  • Secured 681 patents
  • Amassed nearly $400 million in grants

Their math acumen (and their corresponding aptitude for logic and reasoning) predicted their creative contributions and occupational leadership.

The Tough Truth About Not Grasping Basic Math

Children who never grasp basic math concepts conversely go on to become older students and then adults without the same precise, logical abilities.

When this happens, it’s easy to invent stories about why you might not be good at math. Maybe you tell yourself that you’re not a “numbers person” (an excuse not to succeed at numbers-related tasks).

There aren’t really “numbers” and “not-numbers people.” Everyone has the same mathematical abilities. It just comes down to whether or not you’re correctly exercising that part of your brain — the logical, precise part — that makes math easy. The more you use that part of your brain, the stronger it gets. Math is simply a tool you can use to strengthen your logic and reasoning.

However, if you’ve invented a story for yourself about why you’re not good at math, or if you’ve had a bad experience learning math and have resulting “math anxiety,” you’re less likely to want to develop that part of your brain later in life and learn math-related skills, because you associate math with pain.

See How Easily Your Child Can Obtain These Valuable Math Skills

Preventing your child from becoming an adult with math anxiety isn’t difficult. All it takes is giving them the right experiences with math as a student so that they (a) are comfortable exercising the logical parts of their brains using the tool of math and (b) understand math as a logical way of thinking versus simply a series of numbers and formulas to memorize.

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Elephant Learning teaches math concepts from a logic and reasoning perspective, so students learn the underlying basic skills of math before attempting to tackle intimidating numbers and equations. These basic skills are the aspects of math that set up your child to succeed throughout the rest of their life.

Get started with the Elephant Learning app and see how I used my knowledge as a Ph.D. mathematician to change the early learning math experience to remarkable results. Our users learn at least a year of math in three months, just by using the app 30 minutes per week, or your money back.

How Math Determines Your Child's Overall Success
Apr 09

How Math Determines Your Child’s Overall Success

By Elephant Learning | Math Readiness

If you could know that your actions today would guarantee a better future for your child, you’d make the choices necessary to assure the best future possible for them, right?

Of course you would; any parent wants their child to succeed in life and go on to be happy and secure.

Research shows time and again that early math skills heavily determine your child’s overall success. So what more can parents do to help develop their child’s early math skills?

From reading and writing to overall comprehension and problem-solving, math plays a huge role in your child’s future. They don’t need to go on to be in even a remotely math-heavy career field to experience this.

The Unexpected Industries That Require Math Skills

Studies have come out recently showing how critical math skills are to the job market. The U.S. Chamber of Commerce Foundation found:

  • The fastest-growing, best-paying jobs are in STEM-related fields
  • Careers in banking and finance, information technology, health care and construction are all STEM-related jobs predicted to grow to over 9 million by 2022
  • There’s an increase in demand for STEM skills in non-STEM fields

PayScale’s latest College Salary Report is especially eye-opening. STEM grads have a mid-career average salary of $103,408. This is a big deal considering the cost of higher education and student loans.

As you see the digitization of different industries, you can watch as the skills needed for success in these industries evolve to include more math.

Take, for example, marketing. It’s now a completely different field than it was 10 or 20 years ago. With the rise of new ways to measure marketing performance, the field increasingly relies on analytics, data, and reporting. All of these require math comprehension.

It’s not just monetary success that goes hand-in-hand with math skills, either. Other studies find that math skills are necessary for jobs that have a better work environment and greater employee satisfaction as well. Aren’t these two aspects of working life we would never want to deny our children?

Getting the Most Value Out of Math

The way math influences your child’s success isn’t simply by enabling them to solve an equation. Below the surface, math teaches children a new way of thinking, analytical skills and methods of problem-solving that will always be true and precise, no matter the circumstances.

Even before a child reaches college or career age, math influences their success otherwise. Early math skills predict future reading achievement and other academic performance, regardless of a child’s socioemotional behaviors and socioeconomic backgrounds.

In this way, mathematics is a philosophy that’s also an exact science. In traditional philosophy, you might philosophize about knowledge and love and define those concepts any way you want. In mathematics, you define something precisely and then can extrapolate what’s true, precisely and exactly, from there.

Mathematical theories are more than theories, they’re logically true, unlike perhaps a theory in physics or other branches of science, where the theories can change over time with new discoveries and methods of measurement. Math, however, is always true.

Having that as a tool to approach other ideas and use as a scaffold for further thinking and theorizing is extremely important. I’ll go into this toolbox of math-taught skills further in next week’s blog post.

Memorizing Math Facts Doesn’t Add Up

Setting your child up for success in math and then later in life isn’t as easy as teaching them to count before they go to preschool. When children simply learn to memorize math facts, they’re not internalizing the math-related skills that influence that later success.

Students are more likely to succeed when they begin to understand the logic behind numbers, rather than being able to just spout off multiplication tables on command. In fact, your child’s skills in math might not have anything to do with how quickly they can solve basic problems; when your child takes the time to think about the numbers, they get closer to cracking into the problem-solving and analytical skills that give math its value in any career.

Learn 1 year of math in
3 months

30 minutes a week x 3 months = 1 year of math concepts

Elephant Learning’s match academy is a proven math curriculum for kids ages 2 – 16

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The Elephant Learning app helps your child learn mathematical concepts and truly understand them before moving on to the next concept, rather than just asking them to memorize numbers with a few flashy games and boring repetition.

If you’re looking for math resources for your child to set them up for long-term success, then you’re already on the right track. Get started with the Elephant Learning app to ensure your child develops the math-related skills necessary to succeed in any career.

Dec 12

Premium Voices Released!

By Elephant Learning | Announcements

Good Evening.  Tonight, we have made a new release.  Users on Amazon Kindle Fire and Android are required to upgrade the app to version 1.1.1 from their respective app stores in order for the upgrade to work.  iOS and Web Browser users have already automatically received the new update.  This update represents a major upgrade to the application and here is what you need to know.

Premium Voices

The most notable upgrade, is that we have added the first set of premium voices.  Prior to this upgrade, we primarily used the voices that come with the device that your student was using.  We did this because those voices had no bandwidth requirements.  Users of older devices and those who have not upgraded their operating system did not get upgraded voices because of this decision.  To make a more uniform experience across the different devices and to allow flexibility with voices, we have started using premium voices that are streamed to the device.  These voices require extra bandwidth.  If you do not wish to use these voices, you may turn them off by going to the edit avatar screen by clicking the edit avatar button above the avatar and turn off all premium voices.  By doing this, you ensure that the only voices available are the voices on the device and thus we do not use the extra bandwidth.  For all of our current users, you will never have to pay extra for the premium voices — you will be grandfathered into the premium plan when we roll that out later in 2019.

Preloading Games

On some older devices and slower internet connections, the assets were taking some time to load.  Due to this, some users were experiencing issues answering questions when the assets were loading games that were not already cached — namely sometimes answers not showing until the assets were loaded.  To resolve this issue, we now load all of the assets prior to launching the game and you will notice that when you click on the game that a loading spinner appears.  We are still caching the assets and on subsequent loads, loading should go much faster as we only ensure all assets are present.

Help Section Has Been Added

We have been answering user questions by email, and we have now figured out the key pieces of information that users needed to make best use of the application.  You will now see a help button on the website and within the app.

There were also major fixes to older versions of Android. Apparently, some libraries that were upgraded on a release in November broke Android 5.0 devices — it was browser compatibility mismatches and we have resolved this issue by filling the missing API which those libraries are using that caused older browsers to break.  We apologize for this issue and we have released as soon as we can with those fixes to get you back to working quickly.  Please take the update from the store in order to receive those fixes.

 

Dec 11

Homeschool Parents Love Elephant Learning — A Review

By Elephant Learning | Customer Reviews

My kids and I LOVE the Elephant Learning online math program! I am presently homeschooling the two youngest of my 7 children, a daughter age 7 and a son age 10. With nearly 20 years of homeschooling, I have dealt with my children’s various degrees of academic ease or difficulty. I have tried numerous math programs and know there is rarely a “one size fits all” curriculum.

That being said, I am very pleased with Elephant Learning. I was looking for an exciting, engaging online program that would give us a break from rote repetition. I wanted something to accommodate both my daughter’s fast paced but sometimes careless work style as well as my son’s slow, tedious, and moderately dyslexic approach. Elephant Learning is accomplishing that! This program has just enough animation to be entertaining without being a video game.

​There are several ways the students can personalize each session with avatars, themes, and voices. Students can work at their own pace and the program adjusts accordingly.  It is suggested that students use the program a few times a week. My kids look forward to using the program every day and usually work until the program automatically times out at about 20 minutes. This setting can be adjusted as desired.

I love that the program is very conceptual. I believe this enables the kids to progress further faster because once they understand the concept, the thought process can be used to solve harder problems. There is no lengthy lesson to listen to or read. A question appears in word and sentence style at the top of the screen AND is asked out loud. Students are prompted to respond in a number of ways like clicking a correct answer, moving items on a number line, or putting items into groups.

What I like the most is that each new concept is presented in a variety of ways, allowing repetition of the concept but through different learning methods. For example, students may be asked to count multiple groups of three, next choose one third of a set of items, next move items on a number line that has tic marks in sets of three, and so on. After each question and answer, the program will congratulate the student on a correct answer or allow them to try again. Then the actual math problem appears briefly in number and symbol style.

Most of the time, my children are able to work entirely by themselves, even with new concepts and no lesson. Sometimes though, they may need a little more explanation of a new concept or a reminder to use a concept they have previously learned to answer harder questions. At any time, the parent/teacher can access a student’s performance and detailed information in multiple areas of the curriculum. There are also periodic emails sent highlighting the student’s accomplishments.

I did contact the program designers about a small glitch and they responded personally and immediately, solving the problem. As far as learning mental math and understanding math concepts, this program can be used as a stand alone curriculum but at some point, the students will probably need extra practice writing and aligning standardized math problems with numbers and symbols. Elephant Learning has met and exceeded my expectations! It is fun for my kids and they are excelling by leaps and bounds. According to the program’s “elephant age” assessment, my slow, tedious, dyslexic son has progressed nearly 3 levels in about 2 months! I highly recommend Elephant Math!

Thank you
Elizabeth

PS.  To get started, go to https://elephantlearning.com and click Apply Now.

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