Math is such a foundational subject in elementary school, it’s important to understand how kids learn math during the K - 6 years. The way that they are taught really makes a difference in determining whether a student will truly understand the math.
Flash cards, worksheets, and memorization are not strategies for teaching kids to develop true math comprehension. Instead, students need to learn math in ways to help them grasp what math is all about, so that they are prepared for all the STEM subjects as they progress through school.
Let's look at five of the most important factors that contribute to young kids’ success with math in the elementary school years:
1. Building confidence with math
Students need to feel confident that they can learn math. You never want to hear a child say, “I’m just not good at math.” Students need to have teachers and parents encourage what’s called a “growth mindset.” Here’s the idea: the student hasn’t learned the math…YET. But they will!
Brick Math was created to encourage students to build confidence in their math abilities. The program uses LEGO bricks to model K - 6th grade math. Kids love LEGO bricks, so they enjoy learning with Brick Math, and develop confidence in their math knowledge.
2. Learning with hands-on materials
Learning elementary math is, by definition, hands-on. Kids sort, compare, measure, count objects, see patterns, and make shapes. In everyday life, math activities are all around us when we bake a cake, build a birdhouse, or even comparison shop at the supermarket.
Brick Math is a hands-on program of learning that teaches elementary math using LEGO bricks to sort, compare, measure, count, create patterns, and build shapes. Through the process of modeling the math with bricks, kids learn 11 different math subjects in a hands-on program.
3. Talking about mathematical terms and ideas
Students need to talk about math often as they learn in the early years. When they incorporate mathematical terms into their everyday discussion, it helps them see math as a key part of their lives, not something “extra” that is only a “school subject.”
Brick Math includes math terms as part of the program, so students learn to use math terms appropriately as they learn the math.
4. Moving from concrete representation to abstract concepts
Math learning starts with concrete knowledge and moves to abstract concepts. Students must learn how to represent math in writing with numbers and symbols. It’s a progression: first, students touch and see the math as they learn, but later, they talk and write about the math, using equations and number sentences.
Brick Math makes this concrete-to-abstract learning seamless. The program starts with students building LEGO brick models of the math, and then students must explain why their model demonstrates the math concept, and they must represent the solutions in number sentences.
5. Becoming a problem solver
Math is all about problem solving. It’s not simply rote memorization of math facts or formulas. When kids learn math, they search for answers, maybe make some mistakes, and try again. Knowing how to solve problems is a lifelong skill that extends far beyond math and is essential for 21st-century jobs and challenges.
The Brick Math methods develop students’ problem solving abilities. They use their creativity to find solutions to math problems by building models with bricks. Students quickly learn that there is often more than one way to discover the solution to a problem.
If you teach math or have a student at home who is learning math, check brickmath.com. The website includes videos for both teacher training and direct instruction of students. You can learn more about how Brick Math improves student math test scores and hear what people who are using Brick Math have to say about the program.
Brick Math is a K-6 math curriculum that uses LEGO® bricks to model 11 different math subjects: Counting, Addition, Subtraction, Multiplication, Division, Basic Fractions, Basic Measurement, Fraction Multiplication, Fraction Division, Advanced Measurement and Geometry, and Decimals. It works well for math intervention, for enrichment, and as a whole-school program. Materials are simple and need not be shared between students. It adapts easily to online instruction.
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