Program Approach for Elementary Math

The BJU Press elementary school math program seeks to give students the solid foundation they need to use math for life. Our materials carefully progress from tangible representations to abstract concepts so that students not only understand mathematical practices but can choose the appropriate method to tackle a specific problem. Students will eventually be able to confront and solve problems using their mathematical skills, their individual life experiences, and logical reasoning. Using math is a key component of fulling the Creation Mandate. Our goal is to give students the skill sets they need to address real-world problems for the glory of God and the benefit of others.

Developing Number Sense

Teaching a new concept requires starting at the concrete level (the students use manipulatives), moving to the semi-concrete level (the student watches the teacher demonstrate or uses pictures from the book), and finally progressing to the abstract level (the student solves problems using numerals, signs, and symbols). Each new concept presented at any grade level is presented by implementing this three-stage process. Review of major concepts may also follow this format.

The key to our approach is teaching understanding by using manipulatives, ensuring that the student is not just following a procedure that gives him the correct answer. This interactive, hands-on-learning approach is critical for math success. While the use of manipulatives is easily recognized as important for K5, the strategy is equally significant for new concepts taught through grade 5. BJU Press provides packets of manipulatives for student use in K5–grade 4, making this instructional approach easy to implement. While manipulative packets are not produced for grade 5, there are many suggestions for hands-on, interactive strategies in the teacher edition to continue to reinforce understanding.

Promoting Fluency and Automaticity

Although problem solving is the primary goal of math instruction, it is also essential to develop accurate computation. This, of course, requires practice of basic math facts and skills. Every lesson has ample opportunity for review and practice in every piece of the program, including the teacher editions, student worktexts, reviews (grades 1–3) or activities (grades 4–5) books, Teacher Tools Online, and The goal is accurate and quick recall of facts so that students may focus their time and energy on the main task of using math to solve problems in real life. Balance is the key.

Developing Basic Foundations

The key to success in math is a strong foundation of number sense and comprehension of concepts. Students must have a thorough understanding of the mathematical processes and know how to use the processes to determine an accurate answer. While memorization is a key element in math, a student who tries to survive on memorization alone will struggle as higher-level skills are introduced. To excite students about learning math, we have designed a program that engages interest using age-appropriate, colorful themes and hands-on involvement for developing understanding and for enhancing mastery. Our math books use a format that focuses on a single main concept in each chapter. Greater levels of difficulty are added as understanding increases. Our worktexts are filled with colorful photographs and illustrations that picture the problems students are solving as well as the themes.

Building Grit and Skill

BJU Press elementary math for K5–grade 5 provides a framework for critical thinking through instruction in problem solving. Problem solving is the process of confronting a problem and then using one’s knowledge, reasoning abilities, and experiences to reach a solution.

Math concepts are introduced through real-life problems that are encountered at home, at school, and in the community. Word problems pose application questions that students must work through—both in class and on their own. These activities model the skills necessary for becoming adept at problem solving. Furthermore, they enable students to see that math is more than just a subject in the classroom; it is found everywhere we go in life. Most teacher edition includes a “Teach for Understanding” section that guides the teacher in helping students work through problems, showing them how and why various procedures work. Students do not all learn at the same pace or grasp concepts in the same way. The teacher editions present concepts more than one time and in more than one way to ensure that all students are given the opportunity to learn and grow. Our goal is to help all students become more proficient problem solvers.

Making Sense of Concepts

God not only created the world but also created order that math seeks to define. Though creation has been tarnished by the Fall of man into sin, God’s original design and consistency can be found in mathematical details, such as the symmetry of the peacock, the spirals of the nautilus shell, and the orbit of the planets around the stars. The orderliness of math points to the Creator of order. The BJU Press elementary math program integrates biblical content to cultivate a Christian worldview that will help students take their place in God’s world. Each teacher edition guides the teacher in explaining math concepts through a biblical worldview, identifying Christian principles, highlighting Christian character traits, and pointing out that math is an important tool for making wise use of God’s creation. God’s world is a place that can be measured with numbers. And if we know how to use numbers, we can become very skilled at having the kind of dominion that helps others and glorifies God.

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