Next school year we are offering a comprehensive math program for children K-5/6.
The program was developed after a thorough review of different math programs and methodologies used in local schools and after our own testing of students of different grades from public and private schools. Our teachers worked hard to pinpoint strengths and weaknesses in local school programs and compared them with the methods of teaching math in Russian schools. With these observations and conclusions in mind, a novel program was developed. It does not duplicate American math curricula, but it complements them.
K and 1 grade students have one 45-minute lesson per week. K-1 math program focuses on basic math skills: counting; word problems; and using geometrical manipulatives.
2nd-6th grade students have two lessons per week: a 90 minute basics class and an Olympic Math class (45 minutes for 2-3 grades and 90 minutes for 4-5 grades). The basics course includes three main components: arithmetic; geometry; and logic. Arithmetic is further divided into two elements: teaching the skills of optimal mental math and solving arithmetic problems. Recent studies have shown that learning creative mental math is essential in forming prediction skills that help a person calculate various outcomes in life situations. Having these skills will help a person become successful in the future. Solving word problems is the second element of the arithmetic program. Its traditions go back to the Russian mathematics methodology that was founded on L. Magnitsky’s Arithmetic, which greatly exceeds the complexity of word problems found in American textbooks in both depth and variety.
The geometry program is based on the elementary school textbook Visual Geometry by N.B. Istomina and I.F. Sharygin for 5-6 grades. It is designed to stimulate children’s interest as they study properties of geometrical shapes and as they hear stories about interesting facts of geometry from the history of science and technology.
Russian schools have been successfully incorporating challenging logic problems into public school math lessons. Many of these word problems were published in the book by E. Ignatiev Witty Word Problems in 1918, and many of them are still used in Russian math textbooks today. Some of these wonderful word problems were included in our math course with the purpose to help children develop unique critical thinking skills.
The “Competitive Math Problems” course is an attempt to combine two different approaches in teaching a math club. The first approach is founded on teaching several essential components of contemporary math (algorithm theory, combinatorics, graph theory, topology) in an engaging and intelligible way. The primary textbooks for the course are the outstanding series Mathematical Etudes that was designed especially for schoolchildren by the methodologists at the Steklov Institute of Mathematics of the Russian Academy of Sciences. The second approach involves a systematic teaching of different ways of solving competition-level math problems; which, in part, broadens children’s mathematical horizons and assists them in solving various difficult math problems.