A clear win that parents obtain from inducing early literacy in their kids using the Didactiic platform is more free time during the elementary years as a result of their child's newly gained independence. “Ahhhh!” look at my 5-year-old little girl reading the “Box Car Children” in the bathroom or “Ahhhh!” look at her independently solving those word math problems that I handed to her. But once you use Didactiic to get your pre-k’er to read at the 1st or 2nd grade level the next step is get your child to master math at a level that is above their grade.
The stakes will be high for your children if they do not master the foundational skills in math as evidenced by the devastating recent results for fourth (and eighth) graders on the National Assessment of Education Progress (NAEP) test of math acumen. In the first post-pandemic snapshot since the pandemic began, math scores declined in 41 states and only 36 percent of fourth graders were rated as proficient in math (a designation that students have demonstrated competency and are on track for future success).
But how does Didactiic help parents ensure that their kids are not only proficient, but able to perform above grade level? Well there are two main components to numeracy: problem solving and automaticity. We focus on the latter in this post and will return to the problem solving component in a subsequent article.
The parental search for after-school math enrichment options for their kids
For many parents the solution to poor math scores has been to turn to outside math options. We have found that there are typically three reasons that parents do so: 1) Parental anxiety that one’s kids will fall behind 2) Parental ideas of what school-based math should look like (and a sense that an after school program will provide what is missing), and 3) Parental observations of their kids extraordinarily interest in math juxtaposed against a lack of the individualized attention needed to maintain that interest within the classroom environment.
Towards that end many parents choose a local Kumon to send their elementary-aged child to in order to gain access to three things: 1) a weekly, math-focused independent learning environment, 2) worksheets of increasing difficulty over time, and 3) a Kumon instructor who can help their child get "unstuck" by providing hints.
However, Kumon is not about problem solving or critical thinking but rather about automaticity with basic arithmetic operations such as instantly knowing that “four sets of three oranges” equals to “twelve oranges”. It is known that arithmetic fluency greatly expands a math learner's ability to tackle more complex problems as one’s working memory is not bogged down with trivial details such as “four, three, and multiply”.
Over time many modern American educators have disdainfully called arithmetic fluency “rote memorization” rather than recognizing its importance in the early stages of one’s mathematical toolbox.
“It is profoundly erroneous truism that we should cultivate the habit of thinking of what we are doing. The precise opposite is the case. Civilization advances by extending the number of important operations which we can perform without thinking about them.” — Alfred North Whitehead
An affordable approach to achieving automaticity in math
Similar to Kumon, Didactiic has recommended materials that allow for 1) a weekly, math focused independent learning environment, 2) worksheets of increasing difficulty and 3) and an instructor who can help your child get unstuck with elementary math ... You!
However, unlike Kumon the costs to use the Didactiic platform are miniscule in comparison. Kumon will likely cost at least $2000 to $2500 per year when you factor in registration, materials and other fees while Didactiic will cost you roughly 10% of that figure annually.
If you have been using Didactiic with the pre-k'er you have already successfully helped them achieve early literacy prior within an at-home learning environment -- why not take the next step and have your child achieve automaticity in math?