Why Early Math Matters More Now Than Ever

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From an early age, children learn math skills from home and school through everyday activities and routines such as brushing teeth, eating, and playing. Yet math is a core area of curriculum that many young learners struggle to master. The reasons vary, but we know that math is an important part of learning for children in the early years because it provides vital life skills.

Decline of Math Scores 

There has been a lot of research conducted to learn how students have been affected by the pandemic. The New York Times reported in October 2022 that math scores show the steepest declines ever recorded on the National Assessment of Educational Progress, the nation’s report card. The results show that 41 states saw declines in math scores with just 36% of fourth graders demonstrating proficiency in math.

We know that in order to grow, students need to master elementary math skills and concepts—these are fundamentally critical to their success in middle and high school and beyond. 

New Course Offers Math Teaching Methods K-5

Arizona Virtual Teacher Institute (AZVTI) has created a new course, Math Teaching Methods K-5. The interactive course for elementary teachers shares practical strategies for building math fluency while creating a fun and hands-on math classroom.

Caree Heidenreich, Next Gen Learning Coordinator for ASU Preparatory Academy, said the professional development course was created “to support teachers in our current educational climate of learning and social loss.”

Math Fluency and Number Sense

“When people hear the phrase ‘math fluency,’ they probably picture math facts, times tables, and maybe even timed tests with simple addition, subtraction, multiplication, and division problems,” said Heidenreich. “But math fluency is a lot more than that. If you think about what it means to be fluent in another language, it means you know not just the basic definitions of words, but you also know how to use those words in different contexts. You understand what words to use in different situations. Math fluency is like that. If you are fluent in math, you know the why behind the rule and you understand how all the rules fit into the bigger picture of math.”

Becoming fluent in math means developing a sense for numbers and how they work together. Students who have number sense and math fluency are able to be flexible in their thinking and are able to solve never-before-seen problems by confidently applying what they’ve learned in the past.

Increasing Growth Mindsets

“Too many people in our society claim they just ‘aren’t good at math’ and as educators, we have the power to foster positive mindsets around math and help students see they can succeed, especially in math,” said Heidenreich. We don’t hear nearly as much negative self-talk when it comes to reading or writing, though everyone has strengths and needs in those areas of education as well. Often, it comes down to meeting students where they are, building their confidence about what they are already able to do, and getting them to push their thinking to the next level.”

Interested in learning more about Math Teaching Methods K-5?

In addition to the Impact of Math Fluency, Number Sense, and Growth Mindset, the modules covered in Math Teaching Methods include Mathematical Progression Models and Conceptual Understanding, Bringing Math to Life in the Classroom, and Planning for Mathematical Impact. Arizona teachers can register and participate in the course for free and earn professional development credit. 


[course link] https://training.asuprepdigital.org/product/math-teaching-methods/

For more information on other available teacher trainings, click here or contact Alison Hernandez, Director of Professional Development, at anhernandez@asu.edu.