How do I Create a Strong Maths Foundation?
Creating a strong maths foundations means beginning right back at the start.
It means your student needs to know (and fully understand) place value before they can start doing multi-digit addition and subtraction. It means Place Value is where they need to begin because it all stems from there.
Here's a good example. The world-renowned Leaning Tower of Pisa is a famous uneven edifice. It serves as a brilliant example that ignores these requirements. The massive white marble tower was originally slated to be an impressive 8 stories. The structure, however, started to settle in an unbalanced underground after only 3 stories were completed. Over a span of over 800 years that included occasional construction and reinforcement, the Tower continued to sink. This uneven settling eventually resulting in it’s closure to visitors in 1990.
At that time, the Leaning Tower of Pisa was only 15’ from the perpendicular at an angle of 5.5°. Engineers worked tirelessly for another 18 years to elevate the Tower to is current 19” lean allowing the attraction to be open to the public for enjoyment again!
Not surprisingly, the most common reason a structure collapses is because the foundation is too weak. In an article for the BBC News, a Nigerian Civil Engineering professor proclaimed two important things that should be taken into consideration when building a foundation:
- How solid the soil is.
- The weight of the building and its contents
Then, after assessing the situation and identifying what needs to be changed, can we then move forward with making those changes to create a stronger foundation.
Building a strong foundation with maths
The same things need to be taken into consideration when creating a maths foundation for your student. You need to consider these important pieces:
- What level of understanding your student has. You can take the Online Placement Test as a diagnostic tool to check your student's maths understanding.
- Where - and how - to build on that understanding in a concrete, hands-on way. Using specific hands-on manipualtives to teach maths is perhaps the most important (and most often missed) element of successful maths education.
The Tower is a brilliant illustration for why a solid foundation in maths concepts is essential to future success in mathematics. We are familiar with the story of students being passed on to the next grade without having fully grasped the early concepts and skills. Without a solid foundation is maths, just like our favourite Tower, eventually, they begin to sink under the weight of the additional concepts.
Maths Australia’s Math-U-See curriculum lays a solid foundation at the beginning stages by teaching and emphasising the importance of Place Value. Learning and fully grasping this concept helps students achieve success in understanding more complex concepts like regrouping, fractions, and decimals.
”The Leaning Tower of Pisa is a brilliant illustration for why a solid foundation in maths concepts is essential to future success in mathematics. ”
Students who use the Math-U-See program build on top of that foundation through a specific sequence of concepts that advance in complexity. A key to the student’s success is the mastery of each prerequisite skill prior to moving on the next. This is what makes the Math-U-See mastery approach so unique. It is skills-based, which means no grade levels are assigned and students are encouraged to progress through the curriculum at their own pace.
If you want to find out more about how to support (and continue to teach) a strong maths foundations for your students, you can contact us directly here.
Here's to strong maths foundations!
The Team at Maths Australia