Early in math instruction, students are informally introduced to areas of higher math, such as geometry, probability, and statistics. Children experience geometry in the form of basic shapes and figures, part/whole relationships, and basic patterns. Laws of probability and chance are presented through games with cards and dice. Activities involving collecting, organizing and classifying objects provide the foundation for statistics.
Background for the study of algebra begins in the early grades as well. The simple equation 4+2 =?, for example, uses the algebraic concept of an unknown ("?") representing a quantity (in this case 6). Solving equations with fractions in middle grades represents another building block for algebra readiness.
As students move to areas of higher math, they will find that these areas are also related and interdependent. For example, core concepts in pre-calculus require background skills in advanced graphing, coordinate and space geometry, laws of probability, statistical procedures, and algebraic expressions.
The transition into the formal teaching of higher math typically occurs with the high-school core curriculum. Background material must be developed for students at each step along the way in early, middle, and even higher grades to prepare them for the more formal instruction to come.
Here are some suggestions for helping students progress in areas of higher math.