I believe that many children can and do learn about math through meaningful, everyday life experiences as well as through play. I am also a believer in following the child and supporting their individual needs both academic and personal. Each one of my three children learn differently so I could see that my daughter, who will be seven years old later this year, required a more systematic, explicited approach learning math. Even though she has had many meaningful learning experience with math, she has struggled to grasp basic mathematical concepts. Many would say that she just needs time to develop and will “get it when she is ready” but her frustration was telling me she needed further support. So I went looking how I could support her needs yet still provide her with flexibility with making learning math both practical and sequential. And that’s when I came across Math-U-See.
I wasn’t looking for a math program for my daughter but rather a guide that I could use to support her learning. I knew from my education and experience with supporting my son, who has dyslexia (a language based difficulty), that the best type of instruction would have involve an explicit, systematic, structured, sequential and a multisensory approach to learning. And this is what I found in the math-u-see program.
Math-U-See was developed by an American home educating Dad, Steve Den. The passionate educators at Maths Australia have brought this program to Australia and have adapted it to suit Australian math standards. Math-U-See has been in Australia for over twelve years now and has been used in Australian schools, tutoring facilities and in many home education environments.
The Math-U-See program starts with a simple online Placement Test to identify the students current level of mathematical knowledge. This will give the student a place to start with the Math-U-See program. This placement test is very useful for older students and it is now pressure and done under no time restraint. For my daughter, she has started with the first level, primer.
Within the math-u-see program, each math concept is taught explicitly in clear, step by step instruction with each sequential lesson building on the knowledge taught in the previous lesson. Each lesson consists of lesson review giving students ample opportunity to practise and retain taught concepts. The student is supported in their learning to progress at their own pace while each concept being taught is related to real life math.
The math-u-see program uses manipulative that encourages hands-on learning as it allows the learner to touch, feel, see and hear. This multisensory learning reinforces the concepts that are being taught which is essential for all learners, especially those who require more practise and time. For each lesson and concept that is taught, it follows a sequence of build it, write it, say it and this involves the visual, auditory and kinaesthetic-tactile senses for learning.
The Math-U-See program has seven levels for learning about general math concepts:
- Premier – Fun introduction to math
- Alpha – Addition & subtraction of single digits
- Beta – Addition & Subtraction of multiple digits
- Gamma – Multiplication of single & multiple digits
- Delta – Division of single and multiple digits
- Epsilon – Fractions and other topics
- Zeta – Decimals, percentages and other topics
There are also six different levels for secondary math too. Each level comes with a teacher manual, student workbook, a test book and a DVD with shows each lesson being presented. You can find more information on the different levels on the Maths Australia website. We use this program with flexibility in that I follow the child in whatever she wants to do. Some days she may want to use the blocks and watch the next lesson while other days she will choose other math resources such as our Montessori Number Rods and Montessori Short Bead Stair for example.
You can find out more information about the Math-U-See program here in Australia by visit Maths Australia website at www.mathsaustralia.com.au