Why Math Matters

KPCW recently reported concern over the geometry scores of students at Park City High School. At the beginning of this month the State Board of Education will debate over whether high school seniors should be required to participate in math classes. Utah educators believe that the best way to prepare students for college and their careers is to take math classes right before they graduate.  At Soaring Wings, we know how important math is for the development of critical thinking and problem solving skills. This is why we begin teaching geometry to our students when they’re toddlers. We believe that the younger children learn to develop these skills the easier it will be for them to retain mathematical concepts and build upon these in the future.

As we do with every Montessori lesson we begin Math lessons with the simplest of ideas. First geometry lessons begin with size, shape, proportions and their properties. Children learn how to group and sort objects by the size, shape, texture, and color. We also teach patterns, measurement, estimation, graphing and number patterns. In Early Childhood classes the children build puzzles that are physical representations of the power of two, binomial and trinomial equations. During a typical day in class an observer might see a 3-year-old counting pebbles, a 4-year-old learning to associate numerals and quantities up into the thousands, a 5-year-old performing addition or subtraction to 4 figures and a 6-year-old practicing multiplication and division with colored beads. In Elementary class students practice a variety of word problems and learn geometric and algebraic definitions and nomenclature. They are allowed to progress at their own pace and make discoveries, such as how many patterns can be found in the 100 square of numbers.

Since math is something we use every day it is a good idea to point out mathematical concepts early on in your child’s life. You can do this in a variety of ways that will be fun for your children. Here, are some suggestions:

  • Making cookies is a great opportunity for you to teach your child about shapes by letting them imprint the dough once they identify the shape of the cookie cutter.
  • Teach your children about numbers by having them count out their snacks, such as baby carrots and raisins.
  • Cooking is an excellent exercise in math. Younger children can count out the necessary ingredients, count the number of people expected and count out the appropriate number of napkins, utensils and glassware as they set the table. Older children can plan a meal, calculating how much will be needed for the number of people expected and calculating quantities for each ingredient and measuring them.
  • When in the car young children can count the number of cows, school buses or hot air balloons they see on the way to school. Older children can calculate the distance from one place to another and how long it will take to get there.

By placing your children in school as toddlers their analytical, critical thinking and problem solving skills will begin to develop giving them a broad mathematical foundation on which to build throughout their lives.

Duna Strachan, AMS
Executive Director
Soaring Wings International Montessori School
Park City, Utah USA 

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