Blog • Elephant Learning
Case Study: Zoey and Buddy
Dec 23

Case Study: Zoey and Buddy

By Elephant Learning | Case Study

Zoey and Buddy bring tons of joy to their grandparent’s lives. Though both grandparents adore their grandchildren, they struggled to homeschool them in mathematics. 

1/ Challenges

Both kids had distinct challenges met by Elephant Learning’s math program. 

Zoey

Zoey was behind in mathematics by national standards, even though she excelled in art and languages. To her grandparents, Zoey is, “The butterfly in our family, always happy and singing.” Zoey loved school but struggled in math, despite her best efforts. Her grandparents worked on her confidence while tackling her weaknesses. 

Related: Why Your Child is Behind in Math (Yes, Even Your Child) 

Buddy 

Buddy was at-level in mathematics by national standards. In fact, he excelled in all school subjects. Buddy was, “A perfectionist by nature.” He got upset when he missed answers and was elated when he earned 100% on any exam. His grandparents worked hard to supplement his math to make sure he did not give in to laziness. The bottom line is that Buddy needed more mathematics to keep him interested in the subject. 

2/ Finding Elephant Learning

Money is tight in the family, so their grandparents looked for programs with scholarships. They immediately applied when they learned that Elephant Learning offered a scholarship with Math Matters. Their heartwarming story lowered their fees from $35 per student a month to only $10 per student! 

Related: The Early Years: Teaching Young Children Math Concepts

3/ Zoey and Buddy’s Results With Elephant Learning 

Zoey

Zoey started with an Elephant age three years below her level. After playing an average of 30 minutes a day, she has improved almost two and a half years in her Elephant Learning age! 

  • Age: 7 years
  • Starting Elephant Learning Age: 4.10 years (below level) 
  • Current Elephant Learning Age: 6.38 years (at level)
  • The difference after six months: 2.28 years! 

Buddy

Buddy loves math, but boredom held him back a year according to his Elephant Learning age. Playing on Elephant Math games brought his math skills above-level for his age! 

  • Age: 6 years
  • Starting Elephant Learning Age: 5.00 years (below level) 
  • Current Elephant Learning Age: 6.50 years (above level)
  • The difference after six months: 1.50 years! 

Case Study: Elijah and Kamaria
Dec 16

Case Study: Elijah and Kamaria

By Elephant Learning | Case Study

Summary

Elijah and Kamaria are two peas in a pod — ambitious and creative. Elijah (13) wants to be an engineer, while Kamaria (15) wants to graduate her homeschooling program early to become a pro modern dancer. Both are extremely bright, yet mathematics was the only barrier holding them back. After six months with Elephant Learning, both kids are back on track to meet their biggest dreams. 

1/ Challenges

After a big family move, each child struggled to adapt to a new academic environment which regressed their math skills even further. 

Elijah

Elijah once excelled in math and science, but pulling him out of his comfort zone caused: 

  • Low confidence in his math abilities
  • Low engagement in his coursework
  • Regression in basic math fundamentals

Kamaria

Though Kamaria excelled in creative studies, mathematics was her biggest barrier because of:  

  • Slow math comprehension
  • Difficulty meeting math goals
  • Scoring low on math tests

2/ Finding Elephant Learning

Elijah’s and Kamaria’s mom Malaika found Elephant Learning while looking for low-cost and affordable math supplements. She applied for Elephant Learning’s Scholarship and said, “I was determined I would sign up and apply. I knew if we got the scholarship it would be even more affordable and my children would be on the road to excelling.” 

3/ Elijah’s and Kamaria’s Results With Elephant Learning

After six months on the program, both kids are performing with wonderful results. 

Elijah 

Even though he started with an Elephant Age below his level, after half a year, Elijah’s competency is up and he’s achieving 100% on all his course work. 

  • Age: 13 years
  • Starting Elephant Learning Age: 9.38 years (below level) 
  • Current Elephant Learning Age: 12.65 years (at level)
  • The difference after six months: 3.27 years! 

Elijah's scores

Elijah is working hard in mathematics again because it is essential for engineers, what he wants to be when he grows up. His mom is happy the math gap is closed and looks forward to enrolling him at Rooted, a revolutionary tech-based charter school. 

Kamaria

Kamaria is making leaps and strides on her Elephant Learning program. With six months of coursework under her belt, she is also stepping up her math game. 

  • Age: 15 years
  • Starting Elephant Learning Age: 9.16 years (below level) 
  • Current Elephant Learning Age: 11.24 years (at level)
  • The difference after six months: 2.08 years! 

Kamaria's scores

Kamaria no longer spends late nights trying to digest mathematical concepts. She is earning better math scores at home and is working even harder to graduate early to pursue a dance scholarship. 

“Elephant Math can help both of my children achieve the goals they have set for themselves knowing that math is not a barrier but math is possible.” – Mom, Malaika

It’s About More Than Just Math: Fear, Growth and Adaptation
Dec 02

It’s About More Than Just Math: Fear, Growth and Adaptation

By Elephant Learning | Math Readiness

Math anxiety — a fear of getting math concepts and problems wrong and the resulting avoidance of math because of that — is something I’ve seen many times over my life and not just in children. It’s just as prevalent in adults and, believe it or not, despite my PhD in math, I experienced math anxiety as a child, too. 

While some children allowed their math anxiety to grow into a lifelong avoidance of math, mine fueled my competitive spirit and led me to push ahead of my peers, learning advanced math concepts even when I wasn’t able to get into the advanced math classes my middle school offered.

That’s a big question mark in the math anxiety experience and one that can greatly impact your child’s future. Will they choose to avoid math for life? Or will they use math to their advantage in not just their elementary education, but also their higher education and later career? Will they have a growth mindset, or a fear mindset? Will they avoid the concepts they fear, or use their fear of math to get better at it? In many cases, these are the big questions you ask, not whether or not your child actually has math anxiety.

See, most of us have some sort of anxiety around math or another subject. The anxiety might not even be about the math itself per se. Instead, it’s the anxiety around being perceived as a bad student or as “stupid.” It just so happens that many people don’t learn math easily via the curriculum used in most schools and our society in general tells us it’s okay to not be a “numbers person” — and so, math anxiety continues. 

Related: Answers to Your Top Questions About Math Anxiety 

But if your child latches onto that growth mindset and they overcome their fear of math, the opportunities are endless. 

The Power of a Growth Mindset

When our children are encouraged to pursue math, not when they’re told that being “not a numbers person” is perfectly fine, but when they are empowered to overcome their math anxiety, everyone benefits. It’s not just about your child and their elementary school grades. Beyond that, your child and their peers could be the catalyst for a better future for the world. 

Related: Children are Empowered Through Understanding

Math skills are analytic and reasoning skills. Students who do well in math usually do well in everything else. Studies have proven time and time again that children who do well in math early on, do better in all their subjects later. A math literate society is a more successful one. 

A math literate society can produce more scientists, technologists, engineers and more who are equipped to solve the world’s problems. Math-literate entrepreneurs, politicians and creatives add their own value when they’re able to discuss the world’s issues with math-focused professionals. 

But What if My Child Simply Can’t Do That?

Some parents worry that their children are simply incapable of learning advanced math concepts or even basic math concepts, due to a learning disability. But I feel that nearly every child can learn math regardless, and here’s why. 

Every student seems to have the capacity for learning language. At Elephant Learning, we work with math as a language and if your student, regardless of learning impairment, is able to speak and understand language, then our system should be able to work for them (as it’s language based).

Related: Case Study: A 5th Grader’s Journey with Elephant Learning

Beyond Math

Similarly, just as we use language learning methods to teach math within the Elephant Learning app, the same methods we use to teach math (and the same teaching methods discussed all throughout the Elephant Learning blog) are applicable to any subject. 

For example, one of the key ways we tell parents to help their child overcome math misunderstandings is to, when a child gets a math problem wrong, instead of telling them the answer is wrong, ask them why they think that’s the right answer. When a child explains, the parent can generally pinpoint why they’re getting the concept wrong and remedy the situation. This same practice can be used when helping a child learn anything. 

Awareness and Adaptation

Through methods like this that children learn through math, children can then learn to be aware of their obstacles and adapt to overcome those obstacles. But the first obstacle you as their parent have to be aware of in order to help them adapt to overcome it, is math anxiety. Once they’re empowered and go on to becoming aware of obstacles on their own, the sky’s the limit. They can encounter a problem and rather than letting their anxiety tell them to head in the other direction, they can devise a way to solve the problem.

The empowerment children need in order to do so is possible through the Elephant Learning app and through working with your child hands-on, on a regular basis, and getting involved with their education. 

With awareness and adaptation, your child can accomplish anything — from overcoming their math anxiety to changing the world.

Children Are Empowered Through Understanding
Nov 04

Children Are Empowered Through Understanding

By Elephant Learning | Social Benefit

It is never too late to understand math.  At a young age, many of us had the experience of being told that “we are just not a numbers person.”  Books have been written on this social phenomena, and half of all Americans report Math anxiety. As it turns out, mathematics is really about learning jargon, a jargon that is so fundamental to humanity that we consider it vocabulary.

Beyond that, for a lot of people, the confidence that they develop in math affects their confidence in other areas, especially academics and the future.  Research has shown that preschool math scores predict fifth grade overall scores, indicating that it was not just mathematics affected. According to other studies, children that do more mathematics at a young age are better readers, writers, speakers, and problem solvers. Mathematics is special, in that beyond the psychological aspect, there is this problem solving aspect that occurs while engaging in exercising different modalities of the mind. For example, when a student moves from identifying how many to producing: “can you give me n objects?”  The student must hold the number on their head as they count objects and remember to stop when they get to the number asked.  It is like chewing gum and walking at the same time. Together, the psychology, confidence, and exercise work together to foster success outside of the subject.

What impact can success in math have on your overall success in life?  

The Two Reasons Success in Math Empowers Children for Life

We feel like there are two reasons for this. 

  1. When you’re performing mathematics, you’re developing mental tools.

Think about it this way: When you start using a physical tool, like a screwdriver or a hammer, you’re not automatically the most proficient carpenter there is, regardless of whether or not you have carpenter tools at your disposal. 

But, the more you use those tools, physical or, in math’s case, mental, the better you get at using them. When you’re performing mathematics, you’re practicing using these mental tools that you can then use in other areas or situations. 

For example, take one of the more basic tools that children learn when developing math skills (and a tool that some adults still cannot master!) — the ability to solve a math problem in one’s head, to work with numbers without seeing them written in front of you. When you can accurately solve that difficult math problem in your head, no paper or pen required, think of how confident you’ll feel. Which leads us to the second reason success in math empowers children for life…

  1. The more you develop these mental tools, the more confident you become.

The more that you develop the mental tools, the more comfortable and confident you are using them. 

Children are more geared toward learning language than math, but if you teach them about the language of math (as the Elephant Learning app does), then they’ll take that language and begin using the associated mental tools in everyday life. We constantly hear from parents that after their children have used the Elephant Learning app for a while, they become so comfortable and confident using these tools that they start using math to solve problems in their everyday lives. It’s no longer just an academic chore — it’s a real-life problem-solving tool that they feel empowered to use, because the Elephant Learning app helped them to understand it. 

Related: How to Evaluate Your Child’s Math Skills Based on Language

Success in Math Can Be Hindered Early

Unfortunately, getting kids to develop these mental tools and reap the confidence that follows is easier said than done. 

It all comes down to much of society’s attitude regarding math. We mentioned above how many people think they’re “not a numbers person,” but where did they develop that attitude? Does it actually reflect their ability to do math? Of course not. 

That attitude develops in the classroom. As soon as a child struggles with math, they’re given the excuse (from teachers, parents or their peers) that it’s okay, because they’re “not a numbers person.” Once they hear that, it’s an excuse to not really try to get any better at math; it’s an excuse to not practice using those mental tools. And when they never start using those mental tools, the confidence never develops. 

Here’s the catch: there’s no such thing as being “not a numbers person.” In reality, anyone can be a numbers person if they’re willing to practice using the mental tools math requires. 

The Ramifications of Not Achieving Early Success in Math

Unfortunately, if a child is passed through the system like this and they never develop the mental tools that would make them confident, they may firmly believe that they’re “not a numbers person.” This may provide the opportunity to begin thinking that it might not be such a big deal to also be “not a history person” or “not a literature person.” Suddenly, that excuse has the potential to bleed over to every other subject. 

What’s Possible if We Have a More Math Literate Society

But what if we have a more math literate society? One that is filled with students that have developed those mental tools and confidence? 

The United States actually had a heavy math literate society not too long ago. It helped the Allies win World War II and took us to the moon, and led to the advent of the internet, just to name a few accomplishments. But we’re not creating environments for those types of math literate people to thrive anymore. Instead, we’re 69% to 75% math illiterate at the high school level. Somewhere, there’s a disconnect. 

Related: Why Your Child is Behind in Math (Yes, Even Yours)

However, more and more, math is absolutely required for success in a growing number of fields. Beyond STEM fields, look at marketing. Once upon a time, marketing was an entirely creative field, but now it’s completely data-driven. Now, if you want to go into a non-math-related field, you have to choose a humanities major and statistically, those majors generally lead to lower-paying jobs. Unfortunately, because so many people are math illiterate, more and more people are entering the job market at lower-paying jobs that lead to more student debt and a lower earning cap overall. 

Apart from the individual repercussions of math illiteracy, a math literate society as a whole could offer worldwide benefits. If we produce more math literate scientists, technologists, engineers and mathematicians, they’d be solving the world’s problems. At the same time, if you could create entrepreneurs and politicians who could also understand the math and what these math-focused professionals were saying, think what could be possible. 

It Starts Now

To make this kind of math literate society possible, though, it has to start now — at your kitchen table, with your child. It requires that we toss out the idea of being “not a numbers person.” It means giving children the mental tools and confidence they need to succeed, whether that success comes from you working one-on-one with them on a regular basis or your child using the Elephant Learning app.

Help your child gain confidence and conquer math anxiety

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What Parents Need to Know About Math Curriculum in Algebra and Beyond
Oct 28

What Parents Need to Know About Math Curriculum in Algebra and Beyond

By Elephant Learning | Curriculum

When students move into algebra, they begin using mathematics to have conversations.

Prior to algebra, everything we do is really definition. It’s teaching children what numbers, addition and subtraction are and how to think about them from different perspectives via the number line, groupings, quantities, fractions, and decimals. Then they transition into algebra, where formal mathematical language is starting to be used. They begin writing things in the language of math, the language they’ve been learning this entire time.

Sadly, this entire process often happens without children even knowing it. The algebra teacher doesn’t explain that everything they need to understand has been a prerequisite to understanding the conversations they will have. This can cause a lot of stress for your child both at school and at home. 

Related: Answers To Your Top Questions About Math Anxiety

Luckily, you can work with your child to help them develop their language, just like we did for early elementary and late elementary concepts. 

Here are two key places students are confused when faced with algebra for the first time and how you can help them overcome these issues. This is by no means exhaustive but is a great starting point for ensuring your student is ready for Algebra and beyond.

Stumbling Block #1: The Equal Sign 

One place where children have a lot of issues with algebra is the equal sign. The equal sign basically means that the quantity on both sides of the equation are the same. We notice this when students do not understand, for example, “Why we are subtracting 5 from both sides?”

A gamification of the idea of equals typically uses a balance and changing quantities on either side to show the relationship between more, equal, and less.  However, at this age, you can just work with students on the definition so they can understand it. Playing with ideas involves testing them to see if they can identify when the symbols (>, =, < ) are used in statements that are true or false.  For example: 5=5 (true), 4=5 (false), 4 < 5 (true).  

Once the student is able to communicate around the above ideas, a parent or teacher can begin to build more complicated language around it.  For example, an equation is two expressions that are related by an equal sign. An expression is any statement that you can make in mathematics such as 5x+5 or 5+4 or etc…

Because math jargon quickly builds upon itself, it is very important that there is understanding at every step of the way, because otherwise it is very easy to lose students when statements are made about more complicated objects.

Stumbling Block #2: Memorization 

Another issue is that many children at this stage are still relying on memorization skills that they may have picked up when learning their multiplication tables. They just want to memorize the steps on how to solve an equation so they can pass a test. 

Unfortunately, if you’re showing a child how to solve a problem and they attempt to memorize the steps instead of understanding why the strategies work, it will be difficult for them to achieve the goal of passing the test. Algebra is an exercise in problem solving and it uses all of the language that came prior in elementary school.  5x+4 = 9 has multiplication, addition, and needs the student to understand the quantity on the left is the same as the quantity on the right in order for them to be able to even start to approach solving the problem.

Algebra as a practice and division of mathematics deals with abstraction.  The conversations and ideas talked about are more vague (but no less precise) than earlier mathematics.  Rules of thumb that previously could be used to help students achieve no longer apply. Not everything written on paper, just with regular language, need even be true.  In fact, an algebra problem may even be a hypothesis instead of solely existing as an equation.  

Helping Your Child Overcome Stumbling Blocks to Succeed in Algebra

Helping your child to succeed in algebra starts with helping them to understand some definitions. For example, look at all the basic symbols you’ll be using such as exponents, the equal sign, or the greater than sign. The Elephant Learning app does a very thorough and rigorous job of defining these concepts to eliminate any of your child’s common misconceptions. 

After showing a child the definitions, we then test their knowledge of the definitions by presenting them with true or false statements. As they begin to develop an idea of what true and false means in terms of algebra, they begin to build their logic skills. The more students develop their logic, the more intuition they’ll have when it comes to problem solving skills, taking their math ability to an entirely new level. 

Three Steps to Success

At the end of the day, algebra comes down to these three steps: define, recognize and produce. No matter if your child is in middle school or a PhD math program, it’s all about defining (can you understand it?), recognizing (can you identify it?), and producing (can you use it to produce results or new research?). If you can help your child with these three aspects of algebra at home, they’ll be better set up for success in the classroom and the future. 

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