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Why do some students struggle in high school math while others don’t?
Even with the help of the best tutors, there are students who find mathematics in high school incredibly challenging. There are a few reasons for this.
High school math classes tend to move quickly. Many new concepts are introduced at the secondary school level, and are at a much higher complexity than students have encountered before. In a high school math class, teachers often spend most of the time explaining these new concepts, assuming that students have the appropriate prerequisite knowledge from previous math instruction already, and spend very little time going over the core skills.
In this way, math programs in schools typically favour students who already have a strong background in mathematics, with solid fundamentals. That’s why some students excel, because they had started off their high school math learning with all of the prerequisite knowledge. On the other hand, students who are less prepared will find that the usual school math program moves quickly beyond their reach. There are gaps in their core skills and foundational knowledge, so as the school year goes on, they will find it harder and harder to keep up.
Mathematics is like building a house; it happens step by step starting with a strong foundation. Without the core skills and concepts, no matter how fancy the rest of the house is, it will still collapse. This is where Inspiration’s new Jump Math program comes in.
What is Jump Math?
Jump Math is an award-winning math program for grades K-8 developed right here in Ontario. The program was founded on the philosophy that all children can be led to think mathematically, dispelling the myth that some were born with math “talent” while others just don’t have it.
Jump Math does this by using a scaffolding method: new concepts are introduced at a simple level, using small “micro-steps” that gradually and incrementally increase in complexity. This ensures students master each step before moving on to something more complex, thus avoiding gaps in learning. Just like climbing a ladder, each step must be taken one at a time in order to keep advancing upwards. If you miss a step, you may not be able to keep going.
One important key to Jump Math is the use of pictures and mental strategies. When children learn math concepts at an early age, teachers often like to use small manipulable items like dice, paper clips, or building blocks. However, for true understanding to occur, students need to internalize math concepts and comprehend them in an abstract way, rather than relying on manipulatives. Jump Math does this by foregoing the objects; instead the focus is on developing mental strategies with the help of pictures.
Does Jump Math work?
Jump Math was created in 2002 by John Mighton, who based it on a tutoring program he had taught. He found that with this program, children who struggled to keep up at the beginning of the program had, by the end of the program, caught up and even worked faster than the fastest student did at the beginning. This shows that the idea that “some kids are just better at math” was largely a self-fulfilling prophecy, and that with the right program, anyone had the potential to excel at math.
The results are clear. Jump Math has had huge success in Canada and is spreading to the US and around the globe. It has gained many awards and recognition from various groups, including the Government of Ontario and the UK Department for Education and Skills, which included it in a publication called “What Works with Children with Mathematical Difficulties”. The increasing popularity of the Jump Math program in both schools and tutoring centers prove that the program is truly effective.
Inspiration Learning Center is pleased to present the Jump Math program. We aim to not only better aid students in succeeding in math but to cultivate the idea that all kids can do math.
Jump Math will be offered to students in grade K-8 who are looking to strengthen their math foundation. Check your child’s most recent report card. Mathematics is broken down into 5 areas on Ontario elementary and middle school reports: Number Sense and Numeration, Measurement, Geometry and Spatial Sense, Patterning and Algebra, and Data Management and Probability. Jump Math is perfect for students with B+ or higher in 2 or less of these areas.
Jump Math begins in the second week of September. Enrolment has already begun so grab a spot for your child today! Contact us at firstname.lastname@example.org or go to your local Inspiration Learning Center to sign up.