Our Kids 20th logo

The problem with discovery-based math

What you can do to help your child become a better math student

Find a list of schools  

 Child with learning difficulties

Math provokes more feelings of anxiety and frustration than any other core subject for countless elementary and middle school students. However, in recent years, it appears that more and more parents are experiencing and even greater level of stress as they attempt to help their children with math homework. Has math advanced so much in elementary education that we, as parents, can no longer help our kids?

While that may be the question on the minds of a lot of moms and dads, the answer has little to do with the type of math and more to do with the way it's being taught. In recent years, a "discovery" approach to learning math has become the trend in Canadian schools. In general, this approach involves problem-solving situations that are designed to encourage a student to discover the answers without direct instruction from the teacher.

Parent Helping Kids in Math

The goal of discovery-based math is to make it more meaningful for children. If a child can make the correct conclusions on her own through logical thinking and deduction, the concepts will be easier to remember. However, in a recent study released by the Frontier Centre for Public Policy, the following conclusion was made: "traditional math education methods are superior to the highly ineffective, discovery-based instructional techniques that are in vogue now in educational curricula." It seems that, in our efforts to find innovative ways to make math more interesting and less intimidating, we have left many children — and their parents — more confused than ever.

Many classroom teachers would agree that self-discovery has value but also recognize that a more traditional approach to teaching math shouldn't be overlooked. Math proficiency, by its very nature, requires old-fashioned memorization, repetition, and practice in order to master basic, foundational concepts. In fact, in places like Korea and Japan, where students are well known for their math skills, it is this traditional approach to math that is used within the classrooms.

Even if instructional methods in our schools change very little in the short-term, parents can help their kids become better math students. There are numerous resources, such as the JUMP at Home math workbooks that break down math problems into smaller steps. While these workbooks and others like it take a more traditional approach to teaching math, they provide an excellent and easy-to-use resource for parents.

Discovery-based learning does have value in a child's education. However, before a young student can engage in this type of high-order thinking with any degree of confidence, he or she must be able to master the foundational concepts. The reality is, without direct instruction, memorization, and practice the benefits of discover-based learning can become completely lost.

—Marc Lapointe
Find Private Schools:
advertisement

In the spotlight:

  • Two students at Branksome Hall

    Toronto’s only all-girls, all-years IB World School — are the first Canadian (and only all-girls) team to win the European Space Agency’s Astro Pi Challenge Mission Space Lab. [Read more]

Latest Articles


November 29, 2018
Unionville Montessori schools
Find the top Montessori schools in Unionville, Ontario listed below.

November 29, 2018
Brantford Montessori schools
Find the top Montessori schools in Brantford, Ontario listed below.

November 26, 2018
Montessori schools in Montreal
Find the top Montessori schools in Montreal, Quebec

November 21, 2018
Taking the Astro Pi Challenge
Branksome Hall students win tournament after coding experiment runs on the International Space Station

November 20, 2018
Stouffville Montessori schools
Find Montessori schools in Whitchurch-Stouffville listed below.





Canada's #1 private school guide Our Kids is proudly Canadian Our Kids is Parent Tested, Parent Approved





Disclaimer: Information presented on this page may be paid advertising provided by the advertisers [schools/camps/programs] and is not warranted or guaranteed by OurKids.net or its associated websites. See Terms and Conditions and Privacy Policy. Our Kids ™ © 2018 All right reserved.

Sign up to receive our exclusive eNews twice a month.

You can withdraw consent by unsubscribing anytime.

Name:
Name is required.
Email:
Email is required.
verification image, type it in the box
Verification code is required.
Our Kids

From Our Kids, Canada’s trusted source for private schools, camps, and extracurriculars.