Our Approach to Math Enrichment Programs
Our approach to education is governed by the theory that an early systematic approach focused on the development of reasoning skills can have a powerful impact on student development. This theory has been a central tenet of Russian and European education for centuries and was finally quantified by Lev Vygotsky.
Because of our approach, we spend time to match students to the right class for them and have developed a unique curriculum and teaching methodology that:
- Forces students to think logically and critically,
- Emphasizes derivation over memorization, and
- Prioritizes curriculum continuity and student mastery of concepts over pace.
Elementary-age children are capable of abstract reasoning and can benefit tremendously from using those higher-order thinking skills. Introducing children to the abstract language of algebra at an early age can change the cognitive development of a child. It produces a level of fluency and comfort that is difficult to achieve later on and also helps to maintain flexibility for adapting to novel ways of thinking. This early exposure also allows us to counteract the prevailing negativity toward the subject in American culture. Math has become something to fear. It’s seen as foreign, hard to understand, and tedious. In truth, math is something to enjoy and marvel at, to play with, and explore. Before a child can develop any fear of algebra, he or she should be taught to use variables.
We strive to help our students to understand mathematical concepts at a very high level. To do this, we ask even our youngest students to become thinkers and analysts. Students are routinely asked to compare, contrast and explain. They are pushed to discover how to solve problems and to reflect and explain how and why they were able to reach that solution. Our content consistently provides young eager minds the opportunity to develop critical-thinking skills that will benefit them throughout their lives.
Memorization of material without context creates “knowledge” that fades quickly and is entirely useless in the cognitive development of a child. The brain is not adept at remembering isolated rules and formulas, but it thrives on building connections and identifying patterns. Our students derive the rules to establish these connections. Focusing on derivation forces students to explore reasons behind the rules, which provides them with a powerful and enduring understanding.
Especially when it comes to algebra, we believe that:
“Memorization is temporary, understanding is forever.”