The mathematics curriculum at Blue Mountain School is based on methods recommended by the National Association for the Education of Young Children and standards put forth by the National Council of Teachers of Mathematics. Using a variety of rich materials and resources, teachers introduce developmentally appropriate mathematics concepts that build as students move through the program. The curriculum emphasizes mathematical thinking, problem solving and communication. Instruction includes hands-on experiences as well as practice with number facts and computation.
Our Early Childhood math program is exploratory, play-based, and encourages hands-on experience through the use of math manipulative materials such as blocks, pattern blocks, beads, natural materials, and measurement tools. Teachers model that math is a part of everyday activities by counting students during attendance, wondering if there is enough fruit for everyone, and figuring out how tall we are. Games are introduced for number recognition, geometric shape identification, quantity recognition and the development of understanding one-to-one correspondence. Teachers keep an eye out for children’s math exploration and guide them to expand their thinking.
Our Early Learning mathematics lessons and activities are based on developmentally appropriate standards, with material added when there is a need to enrich or review topics or because the children’s questions and interests inspire the group to take its explorations in different directions. In all math endeavors, children are actively engaged in the exploration and discovery of basic mathematical concepts. They develop a shared language for the communication of ideas, and they begin to build confidence in themselves as competent mathematicians. Specific topics covered in Early Learning include patterns, one-to-one correspondence, counting, introduction to place value, and introduction to single-digit addition and subtraction.
Building on basic math concepts introduced in the Early Childhood and Early Learning classes, Lower Elementary math practice continues with additional mathematical lessons and activities reflecting developmentally appropriate standards, with material added when there is a need to enrich or review topics or because the children’s questions and interests inspire the group to take its explorations in different directions. Lower Elementary mathematics also provides children with extra practice in certain skills, such as computation and memorizing number facts. At this age children continue to develop their mathematical vocabulary and communication skills, using speech, writing, drawings and other symbols to represent concepts. An emphasis of the program is on creating and articulating alternate strategies to solve problems, rather than on simply using a formula to find the predetermined “correct” answer. Specific topics covered in the Lower Elementary class include skip counting, place value, up to three-digit addition and subtraction, introduction to multiplication, and measurement.
In the Middle Elementary class, mathematics studies continue to be supplemented with additional mathematical lessons and activities that enrich or review topics, and/or to take advantage of the children’s questions and interests. Students receive extra practice in skills such as computation and memorizing number facts. At this age children are beginning to be able to think more abstractly. Hands-on activities with manipulative materials continue to be helpful, with some use of calculators. Concepts are explored in depth so that children can do more than simply follow steps; they understand why they are doing what they are doing. Specific topics covered in Middle Elementary include place value, an introduction to alternate bases and number systems, the four operations with whole numbers, an introduction to fractions and decimals, and plane geometry.
In the Upper Elementary class, students’ active participation and engagement with mathematical concepts and procedures is encouraged. Ten- to thirteen- year-olds have the ability to think more and more abstractly. Teachers help them make the connections between mathematical concepts, such as the relationships between the area of geometric figures, operation arrays, and the multiplication tables. Students work with negative numbers and expressions with variables and discover new ways of representing problems, including drawing intersecting sets and graphing equations. Specific topics covered in the Upper Elementary class include using alternate bases and number systems, the four operations with whole numbers, fractions and decimals, plane and solid geometry, an introduction to algebra, basic logic and statistics.
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