Ana slowly closed her computer.
She’d just got off an unfortunate video call with her boss; he was letting her go.
Her family was able to survive comfortably because of their two-family income, but she wondered if this was a sign. One of her sons, Christopher, had always struggled in school, but since the beginning of second grade, he’d especially been struggling in math, and her younger twin sons, though strong in math, were constantly rambunctious and energized. She'd wanted to get Christopher into math tutoring, as well as her twin sons in an after-school gymnastics program, but when she was working, she wasn't able to pick them up and drop them off.
She'd known that she'd had limited time to allow them to do what made them happy and helped them, but she wanted to supplement her husband's income to ensure they were able to afford things like the house, the car, and three college funds.
Ana worked for reasons outside of the job itself. She always wanted to give her sons everything she could to make them happy. With two incomes, they were comfortable, and she was active in planning family time. Friday nights were game night, where herself, her husband, and their three sons would order take-out from the restaurant of their choosing and play board games until the sun went down. Additionally, every winter break, they packed up their things and headed over to Disney for a week. Family traditions were important to Ana. She knew that without this additional source of income, she feared they might not be able to enjoy this Friday night family tradition.
While Ana was on the hunt for a new job, she frequently considered this being a sign to step back from her work life so she could focus on where her sons were struggling. Still, family nights and vacations were important to her, as they allowed her and her husband to get closer to their sons since their jobs primarily kept them from being able to spend much time with them. With this new job search in-action, Ana considered this time and decided she'd focus on helping her boys with what they'd been struggling with before she got back into the workforce.
Her twins, Brian and David, needed an after-school activity to help get their energy out, both for their teachers and for her. Though she’d had the money previously to fund it, she couldn’t transport them to and from the activity, as her work would interfere with their times. She'd decided a year ago that because they were adamant about flipping around the house that she'd wanted to sign them up for gymnastics, but without the ability to transport them, it was only a mere idea.
For her eldest son Christopher, math was always a struggle, even in kindergarten when he started learning how to count. Just like when Ana was younger, numbers got clogged in Christopher’s mind-- similar to how letters do with dyslexic learners-- especially overwhelming him when it came to more advanced concepts. These two problems were important for her to fix before she went back into the workforce, so she set out to find the best gymnastics center and the best math learning program out there.
Christopher’s school day went like this: he takes the bus, goes to school, stays for aftercare for 2 hours, then walks home (his house is right next to the school) to finish the rest of his homework. Ana usually took her lunch break around 5 o’clock so she could feed him along with Brian and David, during which time their dad would come home, and she would trade off duties with him until she was done working at 8:00 pm.
For Ana, this process seemed to work for the time being. But after getting some report cards showing the same declining trend in math class as well as speaking to Christopher's math teacher, she found out that she needed a resource for him that wouldn't take too much time but that would give him the math training he needed to catch up with the rest of his class.
After Ana was let go, she scheduled a second meeting with Christopher’s teacher, determined to get to the bottom of his struggles. Ana explained her work situation, and why it might have been interfering with Christopher’s ability to grow, and asked his teacher what she’d suggested.
Elephant Learning math was the initial suggestion, and while Ana didn’t know anything about it, she set out back home to do some research. Turns out, it was something that a lot of her friends had already been using: a gamified math learning app that helped kids learn years of math within a couple of months. It looked and felt like a game, but it really did more than that, preparing kids for math and catching problem areas quickly to focus on before they became a larger issue in the classroom.
Elephant Learning math starts with an initial assessment, where Christopher would take a short initial exam to demonstrate his math knowledge. From it, came his very own Elephant Age, a unique indicator of his current positioning with math knowledge.
After his assessment, he started on a consistent schedule. The team at Elephant Learning suggests playing for no more than 30 minutes for three days a week, so Christopher didn’t have to sacrifice any free time to do more math work, like a lot of his friends needed to. Ana would bring Christopher’s iPad in the car so he could play Elephant Learning math on the way to the grocery store.
Christopher was initially tested at an Elephant Age of 6.32, which was around the same as his actual age. Within a day, he slowly and steadily grew, and within a week, he’d advanced over 6 months, leaving him with an Elephant Age almost breaking to seven.
Ana was prepared to help facilitate Christopher’s onboarding process with Elephant Learning, but she realized that she didn’t need to. He took to the platform immediately, just like he did to the games on his iPad because of the app’s gamification.
If you’re not familiar with gamification, it’s when a game or game-like element is added to an existing model to encourage participation. Outside of it being a popular tool for learning material, to better implement topics and lessons, it’s also commonly used in business, too.
Just think about if you’ve ever had a job with a rewards process: a platform that showed your sales progress compared to the other salespeople with a reward if you went over your goal, a virtual scorecard with teams showing whose department is thriving the most on a certain month, or even a platform incentivizing reading through monetary rewards.
Edutopia tells us that a big problem in attempted gamification is that, “educators mistakenly think that if you give out a badge or slap points on it, you’ve gamified.” They further explain that although there are a lot of educational gamified apps out there, we can’t fully trust that they’re utilizing their techniques effectively. Sure, they might be fun for the kids, but they have to be teaching the right concepts in a way that kids will remember them.
That’s why the founder of Elephant Learning, Dr. Aditya Nagrath, created Elephant Learning; so he could change the way kids saw math. He graduated from the University of Denver with a dual major in Mathematics and Computer Science and later earned his Ph.D. in Mathematics and Computer Science.
His platform combines his two specialties-- math and computer science--, to create a game that’s equally fun as it is educational. So as Christopher used it, he wasn’t only getting the same satisfaction and experience as a regular game-- with points, advancements, and improved statuses-- but he was also using a platform that’s specifically designed for math mastery and retention using proven tools.
For Christopher, this meant the ability to understand math more and more quickly when he was taught it in school, and for Ana, it meant not needing to force Christopher into a boring lesson, like she had to do sometimes with his homework.
As Ana continued searching for a new job, she aimed to focus on helping Christopher master mathematics (and next up is getting her twins in gymnastics class!). Now with Elephant Learning, Christopher has the independence to learn new math skills, with or without his mom!