← Blog home

Author Archives: Michael Sas

Michael has worked alongside home educators for over 15 years and has a strong passion for helping parents find solutions to help their students reach their academic potential.

Math Mastery and Accelerated Individualized Mastery (AIM)

I recently spoke to a mother about the current struggles her child is facing with his math education. She told me,

I’m fed up; I’m not sure if my son is being lazy or if he just doesn’t care. He keeps making careless mistakes by forgetting steps or forgetting to add the number he carried.

After asking a number of questions we found she was doing a tremendous job at home helping her son and she was adamant that he was mastering each concept before moving on. She wasn’t a Math-U-See user at the time, but understood the importance of student mastery.

We found that, at one time, he did have all of his math facts memorized, but he lost them somewhere along the way and was now counting on his fingers.

Memorizing Math Facts is Important

When students count on their fingers, or in their head, it shows that they lack confidence in their ability to find the answer. It also hinders their ability to solve larger problems. The student reasons, if I don’t have confidence with these smaller problems, how can I have confidence with these larger problems?

Consider this problem: 8+3.

A student can easily find the answer by counting (8…9, 10, 11), but they’re not actually adding or combining the separate values. Instead, they are counting. When they get to more complicated concepts without mastering this skill, it can become very overwhelming for the student and will ultimately result in negative emotions around mathematics as a whole.

What we discovered with this mom’s son is that he wasn’t being lazy and he did care. The problem was, he was stressed because he did not have these key concepts mastered before moving forward.

Math Stress and Anxiety

In conjunction with his stress was his math anxiety. He was nervous to make a mistake in front of his mom, and he wanted to rush through the math portion of his day as fast as possible. He tried to answer each problem too quickly and began making simple mistakes by over-counting or under-counting on his hands, or sometimes he forgot to add the number he carried.

We have come to realize that when stress is involved, it is difficult for students to focus on the problem at hand. By having the math facts memorized, the student’s confidence goes up, they are able to focus on new concepts, and they are less likely to make simple mistakes.

AIM Could Help

If your student is having trouble memorizing their math facts, AIM could help.

Our Accelerated Individualized Mastery (AIM) program uses a combination of proven Math-U-See strategies and manipulatives with an accelerated focus on developing fundamental math tools. Students missing these tools experience difficulty processing complex mathematical concepts.

AIM replaces ineffective math habits (like counting on fingers) and processes with effective strategies designed to be understood concretely and stored in long-term visual memory for quick retrieval. AIM equips the instructor to assess for mastery and assure students are ready to move onto the next concept. Successful completion of AIM provides the student with the opportunity to build confidence and find a higher level of success in solving more complex concepts.

Do You Have Any Questions?

How to Build Math Confidence in Your Struggling Math Student

Math anxiety can be hard to distinguish. When your student is suffering, it’s easy to overlook the signs and label it as laziness or an unwillingness to learn. We can reduce this stress by building math confidence in your student.

What Does Stress Look Like?

• Your student cries when it’s time for math
• Your student focuses on the amount of homework or classwork they have to complete
• Your student is worried that their family or peers will look down on them if they answer a problem incorrectly
• Your student knew how to solve the problem yesterday but isn’t able to today

We recognize there is an emotional component to math. Math can be stressful. We know that when students are stressed, they stop learning. Instead, they focus on the worse case scenarios: What if my friends think I’m stupid? Will my mom be mad at me if I get the answer wrong? When we’re stressed, we don’t always think rationally.

Even as a parent, you feel you can’t do it anymore. But, please believe us when we say you really are the BEST teacher for your student. No one will want to see your student succeed like you. No one knows your child like you. No one will be there for your child like you. No one will be able to notice the signs of stress like you.

What You Can Do When Your Student is Stressed

• Take a break. Come back to math in an hour or maybe even the next day. When your student is stressed, the learning will stop.
• Limit the number of math problems your student works on in a day. A good way to measure how much time your student can stay focused is by taking their age and adding 2-3 minutes to that number. For example, if your student is 7-years old, their time of focus will be around 9-10 minutes. Take advantage of the time of focus your student has.
• Encourage your student. Encouraging your student helps support a growth mindset and eases stress. Try saying things like great job! or That’s a tough one, but we’ll keep working on it.

Related blog post: 6 Practical Ways to Reduce Math Stress

How Math-U-See Can Help

The following techniques are used in Math-U-See to build confidence in students and lay a strong foundation for understanding math facts. When we build a strong foundation, we are building confidence in our learners. Building math confidence will eliminate your child’s stress around learning math.

1) Manipulatives-based

Math-U-See uses a consistent set of manipulatives from kindergarten to Algebra 1, leading students from concrete to abstract understanding.

2) Mastery Focus

Students will progress through materials at their own pace, practicing concepts until they demonstrate mastery of skills.

3) Conceptual

Understanding comes from learning concepts first, facts and formulas next, and then applications to everyday situations. With Math-U-See, we teach how to solve, why to solve in this manner, and when to apply the concept.

4) Fundamental Skills

Math-U-See is a sequential curriculum that uses Greek titles to indicate skill level, building concept upon concept on a solid foundation.

5) Parental Engagement

• An involved parent or instructor is a very important part of the student’s education and is in Math-U-See’s learning process.
• Children are encouraged to explore and learn side-by-side with an engaged parent.
• The parent’s role may be the primary instructor or as a supplemental instructor.