Math is like a video game.
In a video game, you learn skills and strategies to move you to the next level, right? It's the same in math.
At the intermediate level (grades 3-5), students learn skills such as adding, subtracting, multiplying and dividing. They lay foundations for algebra and geometry too. Knowing these things allows a student to move along in the video game we call math.
How can a child become an expert at this game? That's more difficult. He or she must really understand what the game is about, which translates to deep understanding of the place value system and how it's manipulated for each operation. Learning strategies, such as properties of addition and multiplication and decomposition of numbers, takes each student one notch closer to becoming a math whiz.
Even with these phenomenal skills, a student cannot master the game. He or she needs to learn (and have permission) to look at problems from different angles, solve them in a variety of ways, and apply skills and strategies in new and different scenarios. With this, the player has mastered the game.
Math is like a video game. Let's help our students conquer it.