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Understanding Math: Practice Makes Progress?

Practice makes perfect? Well, at BrainSkills Learning Centre we believe that practice makes progress. Especially, when it comes to math. Mathematical skills combine both the understanding of concepts and the development of skills. Students can’t have one without the other. Conceptual understanding and skill development go together!

Here is an example: 5 x 7 = 35

By memorization, this math fact can be automatic. We encourage students to have this automaticity as it helps them with more complex mathematical procedures. Students may even know that this also means 5 groups of 7 items or how to draw this math fact.

Conceptual understanding of this fact looks at it on a level of understanding. What do we know about this fact? Well 5 x 7 = 35 but 7 x 5 = 35 as well. We can also apply this concept to division because 35/7=5 and 35/5=7. All of these facts are part of the same number fact family. As mathematical concepts become more complex it is important to apply this concept to developing factors such as what are factors of 35? 1, 5, 7, 35 are all factors of this number. When a student can take the mathematical skill and apply it to various situations, they have an understanding of the concept of numerical operations (in this case the relationship between division and multiplication).

Pure memorization doesn’t serve students well without conceptual understanding. This is why we believe that progress is better than perfection. Progress allows students to improve and gain a deep understanding at the same time.

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