Our students do very well in math competitions.
Learning and practicing analytical reasoning skills goes a long way towards the success in math contests. Even more importantly, when people do what they love, they usually do it quite well. And so, our students are very good when it comes to math competitions. Every year our teams finish among the best in Illinois, Midwest Region, and Nationally. Our students regularly win top individual national and regional awards.
Winning contests is not the objective of our program. The contests simply serve the purpose of giving the kids a great incentive to study harder and learn more math.
Kids love to participate in math contests. If your kids are in a baseball or soccer or any other sport, ask them what would they rather have – twice as many practices or twice as many games? You know the answer! In math, as in sports, while the coaches understand that the practice time is most important, the kids want to play the games.
Kids do not compete against each other, but rather compete against the other teams. This allows us to teach the kids many important character-building lessons, such as genuine support for one’s teammates.
Most math contests in which we participate are team competitions. While individual awards are also earned, the focus is on the team results. We often ask the kids “What would you rather happen: you got a perfect 5 out of 5 but everyone else on the team got a 3, or you got a 3 while everyone got a perfect 5?” This is a very tough question for young children! But they learn that if the team does well, they can still celebrate and enjoy the success regardless of their individual score – after all no one is perfect all the time. And if the team does not do well, it is not much fun to celebrate your own perfect score.
Winning is not about finishing first but about never ending quest to improve.
The focus of our program is on improvement. We start with tryouts and baseline tests at the beginning of the year, and then measure the results of each child against those scores. The contests thus provide a measuring stick against which each child can track their progress. All kids in our program do exceptionally well in that regard.