Children’s University of Mathematics

For over a year I have been indulged in organising the Children’s University of Mathematics.

Upon the arrival of my very own educational set aimed at a happy study of mathematics for pre-school children and those a little older, otrzymałem zaproszenia z całej Polski do poprowadzenia zajęć z matematyki dla dzieci. I received a number of invitations from all around Poland to give math classes to children. The offer that remarkably caught my attention happened to be an invitation to give lectures and workshops within the Unikids university line.

Since the organization Poland Counts to Kids has been formed with a group of friends, including my former students, we have reached the conclusion that we shall lead it independently, on account of the specialization of our classes.

On the 1st October 2012, the Children’s University of Mathematics of Krzysztof Cywińskicommenced its educational activities. Today we give classes to 91 pre-school children aged 4-6 and to children of the first three forms of elementary school (approx. 7-9 years of age, author’s note). After 10 weekly meetings, the children could, among all, add, subtract fractions and recognize numbers up to 1000000. A group of 20 advanced pupils counts to hundreds of trillions, raises to power, understands square roots, operates on logarithms and solves equations and text exercises. In only 10 classes! You have read this right. This group will be ready to “sit” the matura (end of high-school exam) exam in May 2013 after only 30 classes. The rest of the students will be able to take the exam only next year, some will need… two years, or even three years. Why? Because they are only five years old and will still need to learn how to read and write.

Within the first days of our classes in January 2013 we published a series of photographs taken during the classes, and by the end of January a video will have been uploaded.

Why do we do this? There is, of course, a number of reasons, so I shall focus on the most essential ones.

1. A fantastic illustration is provided by the newspaper Gazeta Wyborcza and its article with a misleading title: “Children from poor families have math problems”. Math problems apply to most children. The article informs about collecting the date about 47 237 children aged 6-7, that took part in a programme organized by the Edge Hill University. This programme is called Every Child Counts. As it turned out, 6- and 7-year-olds that have problems with mathematics, come from poor families. The scientists have been shocked by the statistics of birth: among the children having the most problems with math, 1/3 of them were born in summer. (A variety of things may surprise the theoreticians of teaching. Every teacher knows these are the youngest children in a given school year). Yet after three months of additional classes, 73% of them achieved, and I quote: “a strong level in class”. The additional classes lasted three months: 5 times a week for half an hour, alone with the teacher or in groups of 2-3. The article further reads:

The scientists have calculated that the kids started the tutoring classes with a 13-months’ time lag in learning mathematics in comparison to the average class level. During the three months’ course they managed to catch up with 15,7 of a month, and so they could attend their classes without feeling inferior. What is more, once their grades were taken into account after finishing the course, it turned out that they did just as well as they had during and right after the course itself. 9 in 10 children who had been part of the courses also said that mathematics “amused them more”. Surprisingly, it turned out that individual teacher-student classes and classes of 2-3 children had been equally effective.

And myself, I can only add that for 15 years, I have been leading the most essential part of the tutoring in a group of a few children: such classes, once organized carefully, are more effective and more attractive for students. In the conclusion, the author of the article adds:
“Most school headmasters have decided to continue the programme, other have joined as well. At this moment, 18 thousand children of Great Britain attend the Every Child Counts programme.”

Whole article: Wyboracza.pl

2. After reading the article, I typed “Every Child Counts” into the search engine. It appears that even the Maori people have such an organization.

3. The Children’s University of Mathematics is an educational achievement, unique in its kind around the world: the world media have informed, from time to time, about single cases when 9- or 10-year-old children passed matura exams. We wish to show that the original method of teaching school mathematics, developed by me alone, enables

4. The dyscalculia therapy. The educational set “Jolly Mathematics for pre-school children and… those a bit older” has also brought about an additional value. During the classes with children it turned out that it was a magnificent tool both diagnostic and therapeutic. It enables the recognition of symptoms that situate mathematical skill levels under average, and what is more, it allows an instant therapy. Statistically, the problem concerns at least 1% of children, and the core is presented by such websites as What Is Dyscalculia?
I encourage you to study it. Below, I quote an excerpt from a Polish article: “Apart from the genetic conditionings of dyscalculia, what determines the success or failure in learning mathematics is the early experience of the child, according to Brian Butterworth. If it understands mathematics from the very beginning of its education, the later experiences lead to achievements, which then strengthen the interest within the area and awakens the motivation to working out more exercises, which brings general happiness from dealing with mathematical problems and lead to their understanding.
However, if the child does not become fascinated with mathematics, does not understand its basics, it gradually leads to lower achievements, a lack of motivation to take up further efforts, even fear, avoiding this subject, and then a degradation of understanding mathematical problems. This is why it is important to include the emotional factor in therapies. How to help a person with dyscalculia? It is most essential to:

  • 1. Building up own self-esteem and trust for oneself
  • 2. Building up a contact on what a child can do and does well
  • 3. Seeking challenges for it outside the area of mathematics, so that it could achieve success
Games the develop mathematical imagination are also efficient.

5.If you are interested in our educational offer: tutoring, Children’s University of Mathematics, dyscalculia therapy and other specific difficulties in learning mathematics, finally courses for teachers, we encourage you to contact us via telephone call: (code for Poland) 608-138-035.