As part of its ongoing efforts to promote mathematics education, and to provide support to families of young children, The Children’s School is hosting a virtual parenting workshop. Greg Tang will be presenting, “Mathematics Everywhere, for Everyone” on Wednesday, March 31, at 7 p.m. In his talk for The Children’s School, Greg will present an approach to math that makes working with numbers more intuitive and enjoyable, for children and parents alike.
Math is as essential to our understanding and appreciation of how the world works, and our place within it, as the spoken and written word; it has been described as “the poetry of logic.” As Maureen Murphy, Head of The Children’s School, explains, “A practical and needed tool, math is also a language, a window to deciphering the physical world as well as the forces that govern it. It teaches an important habit of mind–problem-solving. Children learn how gratifying it is to find a solution, even if it takes several tries or a shift in strategy.” With this belief in mind, The Children’s School is always striving to make math accessible and relevant, for children and their families.
The Children’s School brings math to life by anchoring it in the concrete, the domain that young children can grasp most easily. At every turn, our program offers opportunities and materials for the development of mathematical concepts. The curriculum has its roots in the work of Maria Montessori, a visionary in her insight that children are capable of understanding high-level mathematical concepts. Like Jean Piaget, she believed that young children learn best by manipulating simple objects, and she designed an array of learning materials that help develop mathematical thinking. By handling and arranging blocks, beads, and puzzle pieces, children develop spatial awareness, pattern identification and grouping skills, and grasp concepts like counting by twos and fives.
As children’s understanding of math concepts becomes more secure, the School turns to elements of Singapore Math, which emphasizes inquiry and problem-based learning without sacrificing computational fluency. Throughout, students strengthen their critical thinking skills and practice using mathematical language to explain their reasoning. Areas of study include patterns and algebraic relationships, number sense and operations, statistics and probability, and geometry and measurement.
To determine which skill set best predicts academic success in elementary school, researchers at UC Irvine followed the progress of 20,000 kindergarteners. Their surprising conclusion? Math skills. Children who learned the most math in their primary years tended to have the highest math and reading scores years later.
“With that research in mind, we strive at The Children’s School to develop children’s persistence in problem-solving and a growth mindset toward math,” Murphy says. There are usually multiple approaches to solving a math or engineering problem, and we encourage children to persevere and try different strategies.” The rush of pride a child feels after completing a binomial cube or folding a perfect paper airplane makes the trial-and-revision process that led up to that moment meaningful. “We’re building a predisposition to enjoy and understand mathematics–and to relish the challenge,” Murphy concludes. Even Einstein believed the key ingredient in math ability was tenacity. “It’s not that I’m so smart,” he famously remarked, “it’s just that I stay with problems longer.”
Recognizing the value of a strong relationship between home and school, the School regularly hosts materials nights, where parents have a window into the diverse and dynamic materials employed to support learning, information sessions about curriculum, and a Parent Lecture Series. On March 31 Greg Tang, a passionate advocate and self-proclaimed “missionary” for mathematics education, will return to the school. Greg has made it his mission to get children off to a great start with math — by teaching their parents new problem-solving strategies. Greg’s goal is to keep math anxiety at bay and help parents feel confident about guiding their children through equations and calculations. When parents feel more informed and comfortable with what children are learning they can more easily help children make connections between math and the world around them in everyday life. A common language and approach provide a valuable opportunity for connection between parent and child, and the opportunity to reinforce math skills and their relevance.
Greg Tang is the author of eight picture books about math, including the best-selling The Grapes of Math, and develops teaching guides and math games.
The Children’s School has focused on primary education for more than 55 years, with a clear mission: nurturing good habits of heart and mind through an individualized learning program and unsurpassed teaching talent. Each student is known and supported, and immersed in a curriculum rich in music, art, science, movement, technology, books and a suite of learning materials that beckon children to explore and experiment, which is the basis of all learning in children. Our welcoming environment instills students with the values of respect and care for oneself, for others and for the world beyond its campus.
To attend Greg’s workshop on March 31 (via zoom) or to learn more about the School’s work, please call (203) 329-8815.
This post is sponsored by The Children’s School