Math at ARCHES: From Abstract to Concrete

Math at ARCHES: From Abstract to Concrete

It’s not uncommon to hear people talk about “math anxiety” or say they are “bad at math.” The national push for STEM (Science, Technology, Engineering, and Math) learning is indicative of a desire to better prepare students for tomorrow’s jobs and increase math competence. But why have we fallen behind in math and why do we have so many people in our society who fear math? At ARCHES, we believe that learning math is FUN and that it can be taught in a way that helps make sense of abstract concepts.

ARCHES aims to increase engagement and help students love math! Our talented teachers begin with the “why” in mind: why we do math and the concepts at the basis of numbers and shapes. Unlike traditional math learning, we do not focus on shortcuts or memorization. We slowly build a foundation of conceptual understanding that makes it easier to tackle more difficult material as students progress.

ARCHES intentionally adopted the Math U See curriculum to use in our multi-age classrooms for it’s gradual approach to math learning. This curriculum aligns well with our philosophy of mastery as a means to advancement. Students at ARCHES move through skills and concepts at their own speed and advance to more challenging material only when they have mastered the content.

Hands-On, Minds-On Math

Helping students learn to love math begins with hands-on, authentic learning about numbers and shapes. Our students work with manipulatives (sets of objects used to reinforce mathematical concepts, such as blocks or counters) to help turn abstract concepts into concrete understanding. The manipulatives allow our teachers to visually represent and demonstrate new concepts. Manipulatives aren’t just for our youngest students--they are helpful for math students of all ages to help math come to life, from 2D to 3D.

An ARCHES Academy student creates a cardboard model in class

Gradually, students move from using only manipulatives to a pictorial stage, where concepts are presented in symbols and images. Traditional paper and pencil tasks may enter at this stage. Coupled with manipulatives, students are able to demonstrate their understanding of abstract concepts in a two dimensional way, such as triple digit subtraction or the Pythagorean theorem.

Small Steps to Big Learning

Like all learning at ARCHES Academy, we teach math in a progression. It doesn’t matter where your child is on his/her math journey, our teachers assess ability and skills and place your student at the appropriate level. These levels are not divided by traditional grade levels, but rather the skills that your child needs to acquire before moving forward. It’s highly personalized and highly effective!

Sequential and Logical

Through Math-U-See, skills and concepts are presented in a logical sequence. Our talented teachers use real-world scenarios to help students gain a deeper understanding of the concepts. For example, when we learn addition and subtraction with decimals, we spend time working with play money and learn how to count up and give exact change. By bringing skills into real life, students learn the purpose for these abstract concepts.

We progress through concepts in micro-steps, giving children time to cement their understanding before moving on. Concepts are also often reviewed as new skills are added. Algebraic learning, and solving for the unknown, is introduced early so that when students arrive at more challenging skills, such as subtraction, they are prepared to think flexibly.

ARCHES Academy is committed to helping each K-8 learner achieve mastery of the standards by use of authentic learning experiences, coaching and mentoring, freedom of choice, and personal responsibility. We believe we can help your child grow a life-long love of math.

About ARCHES Academy

Our commitment is to help each K-8 learner achieve mastery of the standards by use of authentic learning experiences, coaching and mentoring, freedom of choice, and personal responsibility. At ARCHES Academy, our educational approach produces outstanding individuals who not only have acquired exceptional literacy in the arts and sciences, but mastery over self and true leadership ability. Enrolling K-8 tuition-free today!