The invitation to review Early Math Matters (EMM) came at a time when I was frustrated with teaching Math to Faith because she was none too interested in wanting to learn more and there was some resistance on her part with working on the tasks that I have set out for her.
If you have been following my IG or Dayre for a while, you would have known that I have been focusing more on language and the arts for home learning as compared to Math and Science. Admittedly, I was more excited to teach the former areas to the kids. However, I know that a solid foundation for Math would be helpful for the children so after much consideration, I decided to get Faith to attend the Step Up to Primary One (SUPO) at Early Math Matters once a week for a period of six weeks.
Early Math Matters, a sister company of Neuromath Academy, is a premier Mathematics and Cognitive development enrichment centre for preschool children aged 3 to 6 years old. They set out to help children build a strong foundation for problem solving at an early age through purposeful play, innovative lesson design and immersive learning, to name a few. They believe that by strengthening the child’s math fundamentals, they can instil a passion and love for math that will stay with them for life.
I remember the first lesson very vividly and the transformation that resulted from that ONE session with regard to her attitude towards Math. Before the lesson started, Teacher Regina asked the girl if she liked Math.
“No, I don’t like.”
*face in palm*
I know she didn’t like this subject and I might well have contributed to that attitude of hers. I did try using manipulatives in teaching her since I know that children at this age need concrete objects to understand concepts better. However, I wasn’t so patient at times and more often than not, Math wasn’t presented to her in a fun way.
So I was truly surprised that she told me that she enjoyed the session and would love to go back again because “it’s fun!” When has Math become fun for her?
Throughout that week, she was eager to do the homework given by the teacher. I tried not to interfere, preferring to observe how she did the sums and how she derived at her answers. She did them with confidence. There were a few she didn’t get them right but after a little scaffolding, she could do them.
For the subsequent weeks, Faith maintained the same enthusiasm for this class. I was really curious. How did they do that? What did they do in there?
“Why do you like to go for this class?”
“Why is it fun?”
“I get to play games!”
On the fourth lesson, I was allowed to sit in for a while to observe the lesson. Teacher Regina was really getting them to play…Math games and I could sense the enjoyment from the students. There was really good rapport between the teacher and the children too. No wonder Faith loves this class!
Of course, it’s not all play and no learning. In fact, Faith did learn, more than what I have taught her definitely and in greater depth. What is more beneficial is the fact that she is getting excited about Math!
There are a few things I like about SUPO. It is specially designed to prepare 6 year olds for primary school math and it covers a wide range of topics like number bonds, symmetry, substitution, part-whole models, multiplication and logic reasoning, to name a few. The lessons are engaging and interesting from the way the girl described to me and I like it that interactive manipulatives and games are used to create an immersive learning environment.
EMM has graciously shown me some of the materials they use in the lesson and have I mentioned that they also make use of VR technology to get the students to experience math concept? It’s the first in Singapore!
While teaching materials and resources are helpful, I think what is more important is how the teacher uses them to bring across mathematical concepts in a way that young children could comprehend. I do think that pedagogy matters, a lot, and from our experience, Teacher Regina has done a good job.
If you ask me what is the greatest benefit the girl has derived from the class, I would tell you that her interest in Math has returned. I observe that she is thinking MORE now when it comes to her Math work as compared to just inserting numbers into a number statement (for example) previously. She doesn’t get every question correct and would still need clarification now and then but the frustration level from her has dipped for sure.
When I first agreed to do the review, I had one main objective. I do not need her to know how to solve every problem or to be a Math whiz just because she attends this class. Nope. What I want to see is a change in her attitude towards Math, that she will develop a love for learning or Math in this case and to have a curious mind for solving problems and not just give up so easily and surrender, “I don’t know how to do this!”
Oops. Okay. This is more than one objective. But you get the idea?
I’m happy with how Faith has progressed throughout these six weeks of lessons. I find that she is more confident when it comes to Math. As a parent, I am reminded to make learning fun and meaningful for the kids and not subscribe to rote-learning. There is a place for drill and practice but I believe understanding of concepts holds greater value.
I don’t advocate going for enrichment classes unless the child needs it. If I have to get my kids to attend any enrichment classes, I would make sure that the teachers know what they are doing and they do what the school/ enrichment centre has set out to do in the first place.
Go on down and have a chat with the friendly staff at Early Math Matters and find out more about SUPO or the other classes that they offer or what their beliefs are when it comes to teaching the young ones about Math. You can call them at +65 6384 0797 or +65 9770 3263 or enquire at firstname.lastname@example.org.
Early Math Matters is located at MODA, 42 East Coast Road, #01-02, Singapore 428762.
Oh, before I forget! EMM is offering my dear readers a $30 off per month for their ‘Step Up to Primary One’ or ‘Math Intelligence’ programme. Every little savings help. Terms and conditions apply.
Do contact them if you are interested?