"Conceptual Math" is shorthand for a way of teaching why operations in math work the way they do – as opposed to "Procedural Math," which gives a series of steps to memorize to solve a problem. Our Conceptual Math curriculum was developed at The Summit Country Day School, and it exceeds national standards.
When most elementary aged children see the symbol “=” they think, “find the answer.” Here, in our building, children think “balanced.” To understand this concept, students may place 5+1 blocks on one side of a scale and 3+3 blocks on the other. In doing so, they concretely experience the two sides of the scale as balanced. Then, they get out their math journals and they explain their reasoning. With this foundation, those same students will solve algebraic equations using pictures that are manipulated to, again, demonstrate balance. That depth of understanding allows them to move toward applied algebraic reasoning as they put math at the service of creative problem solving.
In the Lower School, we begin our students on this journey of deep mathematical reasoning by engaging students in a natural progression of conceptualizing math from concrete, to pictorial, to abstract thinking. The Conceptual Math curriculum draws upon research-based pedagogy, years of successful experience from specially trained faculty and globally recognized best practices. It crosses curricular lines as our students explain their reasoning in both writing and persuasive speech. We don't limit the curriculum to a single textbook. We have materials-rich classrooms and hands-on learning tools that physically demonstrate mathematic principles.
In short, through this Summit Signature, our students develop problem-solving skills and confidence in their mathematical reasoning. What’s the proof to our claims? As our Lower School students move to the Middle School, 100% of them are placed into the developmentally appropriate math class with over 66% of them being placed in courses that are above grade-level rigor. Why? Because the depth of our students’ understanding allows them to engage higher level concepts with the conceptual underpinnings they have mastered through our Conceptual Math curriculum.
So often, you hear students struggle and say, "I just can't do math." We don't believe that's true. We will help your child see that they can. We'll give them the conceptual framework to understand what math is all about.