How Ellis Escaped the Vicious Cycle of Re-Learning Math Concepts Every Year

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Which scenario would you rather find yourself in? 

Being asked, “What is 5 times 4?” or “Why does 5 times 4 equal 20?” 

There’s a reason teachers go through extensive educational training before they attempt to teach math to others. 

But what if you could do it yourself – at home?

Searching for the answer to that question is what brought Raelyn, mother of first-grader Ellis, to Elephant Learning.

Ellis’ teachers had already identified his limited attention span as a potential roadblock to learning.

Raelyn explains, “He struggles with focusing in a classroom setting, but can be easily redirected. In talking to his teacher, it’s topics he may not have that much knowledge about or it’s information that doesn’t catch his attention.”

When Raelyn found Elephant Learning, she discovered an app filled with engaging math games that would likely hold Ellis’ attention long enough to learn something new.

Raelyn wants Ellis to love learning math as much as he loves reading, and the two skills are in fact tied to each other. Research shows that children who do more math are better readers, writers, speakers, and problem solvers.


Teaching math to kids these days is a daunting task for any parent, and it doesn’t matter how confident parents are in their own math skills. 

It can be hard to put into words the how and why of math concepts for an adult audience, and trying to make these concepts make sense to a child is even harder. 

Adding to that dilemma is the trend of constantly evolving math curriculum. 

New insights into teaching math can impact students in a positive way. 

The rapid development of various math problem-solving procedures can keep parents and students in a vicious cycle of re-learning, rather than building on concept mastery and moving forward. 

For example, if a student has already mastered addition, they might still be expected to learn a new series of steps for addition, even though it’s a concept they’ve already mastered. 

This trend is evident in many educational settings: learning math concepts has shifted to learning multiple math procedures, with students expected to learn several ways to solve the same problem.

Suddenly, the way many adults were taught math in elementary and middle school is no longer the standard approach. In fact, it can feel like there’s no standard approach at all.

For many parents, their math knowledge is considered obsolete when it comes time to help their kids with math homework. 

Any confidence a parent may have in helping their child answer a math problem is often met with their child grumbling at them, “That’s not how the teacher wants us to do it” — even if the answer is correct.

Suddenly the roles are reversed, and now it’s your child's job to teach you the various ways they’re supposed to do the math, even as they themselves are struggling to understand it, let alone put it into words. 

This role reversal would be a small miracle for a younger child who is still learning how to communicate in general. 

In this familiar scenario, feelings of frustration in both parents and their children can leave everyone feeling helpless and discouraged.

Raelyn shares this frustration with her son Ellis. “The strategies they teach [in school] involve using more than one way to find the answer which is challenging. He forgets steps in between and it crushes him. He’s frustrated and I’m frustrated.”

Sounds familiar, doesn’t it?

Finding Elephant Learning

Imagine Raelyn’s relief when she found Elephant Learning, a math program designed to empower children with their math progress.

What makes Elephant Learning so effective is that it teaches math concepts, not procedures. That means your child is learning how to problem-solve rather than memorizing a series of steps for a designated problem.

In other words, your child builds their own toolbox of diverse problem-solving skills. And like a toolbox, they can use those skills in a variety of contexts and at any grade level. 

Their confidence in their math abilities isn’t tied to a specific style of solving math problems. That’s how Elephant Learning is 100 percent compatible with all math standards and curriculums.

When your child learns the universal language of mathematics, it means they can more easily adapt to their rapidly changing world — new teachers, new schools, new curriculum, or real-world challenges.

The result is a student who experiences increased understanding, increased learning, and increased confidence.

For kids like Ellis, that means their confidence in their math abilities isn’t tied to how well they know a specific type of problem. They can rely on their trained, mathematical intuition to tackle a problem regardless of the context.

And thank goodness for that, because the math curriculum continues to evolve at every grade level. 

Even if Ellis masters his first-grade math curriculum, he will likely face a new curriculum with a new methodology in the future, leaving him and his mom back at square one to learn an entirely new method for solving the same problem. 

But Elephant Learning removes parents and students from that vicious cycle of re-learning how to do math every year.

Related: Constant Curriculum Changes Leads Parents to Elephant Learning

Success with Math Games

Learning math isn’t automatically more fun just because it’s on an app instead of in a classroom. What makes Elephant Learning so effective is that it turns learning math into a game. 

For example, your child might be presented with a screen full of pandas and asked to make eight equal groups of pandas. Or, they might be given an empty pattern and asked to fill in a fraction of the image.

Don’t let the fun graphics and animations in Elephant Learning mislead you: learning math concepts through games is a research-based approach to ensure engagement and information retention. 

Elephant Learning math games are designed by early-age education researchers who have studied successful math gamification models.

For a kid like Ellis, this fun, game-like approach to doing math is exactly what he needs to hold his attention. As Raelyn says, “I just want him to have fun,” and with Elephant Learning it’s hard not to, with a variety of games at Ellis’ fingertips, whether he’s using the mobile app or a computer.

As Ellis plays his math games, the program adapts to his learning progress. He can’t possibly get bored, because once he’s mastered a concept the program introduces more challenging material. 

And if he does struggle, the program adjusts accordingly to prevent unnecessary frustration.

This model is paying off for Ellis already. When he began Elephant Learning he was doing math below his age level. After six months, he’s mastered over four years of material and is now ahead of 7-year-olds. 

Elephant Learning makes sure parents stay in the loop when it comes to their child’s progress too.

The detailed progress report lets parents see exactly which areas their kids need help in, and which areas show progress. That gives parents the freedom to focus their time and attention on where they think it matters.

Regardless of where kids start in their math journey, Elephant Learning meets them where they are and builds their confidence. 

A confident learner is a happy and motivated learner, and motivation is what keeps kids actively learning as they grow.

Imagine the frustration melting away as your child masters a year’s worth of math in just three months, after playing with the Elephant Learning app for 30 minutes a week.

You’ve finally escaped that vicious cycle once and for all.

Related: The Critical Differences Between Elephant Learning and Other Math Apps

Ellis’ Results: 

  • Age: 7 years
  • Starting Elephant Learning Age: 3.5 years
  • Current Elephant Learning Age: 7.6 years
  • The difference after six months: 4.1 years!

“I want Ellis to feel confident about learning” - Mom, Raelyn

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