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Principal’s Address

Posted on by Classical School

“How can I help my child in math?”


Dear Classical Families and Friends,

Classical School has a very powerful K-8 math curriculum called Saxon Math. We have used it with great success for many years and continue to be pleased with the results its use has yielded. It is a program designed by the late John Saxon. The basic philosophy of his approach was incremental development and continuous review. Incremental development meant that larger concepts were broken down into smaller, more easily understood pieces that were introduced over time; continuous review refers to the practice of concepts in cumulative problem sets once they were introduced. As a student completes a new concept, a brief review of the previous chapters and concepts are also tested. While we are able to send most of our students to high school having completed Geometry or Algebra, some families want additional support for either their struggling student or their mathematically inclined students.

Number 1 Ask your child’s math teacher for guidance.

Every one of our teachers has great ideas for both the naive and adept mathematical students.

Number 2 Learn Basic Facts

Using calculators correctly is predicated on users having a ready knowledge of simple facts in order to know when errors entering data return incorrect answers.

Children who don’t have a quick grasp of the facts do not generate correct estimates or make good guesses in complex math problems. Their problem solving ability is hurt because they cannot tell if an answer “makes sense.”

Lack of fluency with math facts limits the number of more advanced math problems students can and will do on a daily basis. Because doing math problems are so slow and difficult, students resist doing their math assignments and thereby learn less.

Students who are being distracted because their fact knowledge is not automatic find it difficult to learn complex math algorithms. Students who are automatic with their math facts find it much easier and are much more successful at higher level math.

Once students reach fractions, they need to figure out common denominators, equivalent fractions, reduce fractions, and cancel out like factors. All of these procedures depend upon instantaneous recognition of multiplication facts. Students cannot easily learn, nor easily understand fractions procedures without a ready knowledge of multiplication facts.

Mastery of fractions, decimals, percentages, and ratios is required for students to be ready for algebra. Algebra is the gatekeeper to all higher math classes and success on the SAT. Higher math is the gatekeeper to 4-year colleges and all of the more technical professions. For some students all of these opportunities are denied due to lack of mastery of multiplication math facts

Purchase the app Rocket Math on your smartphone or tablet to help your child. Rocket Math is a Direct Instruction based app that builds students facts from the bottom up in short five minute bursts.

Number 3 Saxon Math Answer Keys

Answer keys can be purchased online to save parents time during the correcting process if their child needs this type of extra support… but answer keys should be used cautiously.

Answer keys should be purchased for parent convenience. Parents can quickly ascertain the correctness of an answer and then direct their son or daughter to try again. For our students -understanding the proper process toward answering the problem correctly should be the goal…not quick and easy answers.

NOTE: A child in an accelerated math class who needs their work checked every night to ensure that they are achieving a passing grade is probably incorrectly placed. Discuss this with your child’s math teacher.

Number 4

The Khan Academy is a non-profit educational organization that provides free math video tutorials and interactive exercises. The Academy’s declared mission is “changing education for the better by providing a free world-class education to anyone anywhere.” The tutorials are informal in style and organized for building knowledge one concept or lesson at a time. Khan Academy website users can maintain records of their progress. Parents, students, and educators can sign up for this free service. My own sons have used the upper level math videos in high school to learn, relearn, or preview mathematical concepts. Your child’s MAP math scores can be inputted into the site and individualized instructional videos and activities will be generated. One of our understated objectives as educators is that none of our students grow up to be adults who truly believe the following phrases, “I just don’t like math,” or “I’m not good at math.”

Thomas Bomann
Principal, Classical School

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