Building a foundation

I have parents come to me and say, “My child is ready for Algebra I, but I skipped all the stuff he/she didn’t need to know.”  ”

What I say – “Okay, well, let’s give them a placement test to see where they are.”

and what I want to say – “You did what?!?”

What I find so disconcerting about this comment is that math is not like history or science.  In history, you can learn about Rome without learning about the Etruscans or the Byzantines.  In science, you can learn astronomy without learning the physics behind the star’s fusion.  Because all of you reading this are readers :), you understand the basics of learning to read.  You cannot learn to read without first learning the letters and their sounds.  You then learn to blend words or perhaps memorize sight words or in most cases, both.  Learning to read is progressive and skipping steps is not an option.

Talk with any math professor, and they will be able to tell you how often they are required to teach basic math skills students never learned along the way before reaching their class.  Those things that you don’t think you use as an adult – therefore, why would my child need this information – is a misnomer.  We use math every day in far more situations than we realize.  The foundation must be there in order to progress to higher level maths.  Take time to teach each concept and check for understanding through more than one type of assessment and review, review, review.


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