Learning math is hard work. No child learns the exact same way. There are so many approaches to education that finding the right one for your child is important. Spark Math by VISPARK is about taking the steps to make learning fun, engaging, and long lasting. Since our inception, we have focused on prioritizing students’ learning experience and building fundamental problem-solving skills. The approaches kids take to figure out equations are key to building the confidence and abilities to use math in school and beyond.

When developing great problem solvers, we have to look at how we approach those equations. Spark Math helps students create a strategy that develops a plan to not only find different ways to solve a problem, but also catch careless mistakes. Having a plan helps make hard work a little easier every time you face a new problem.

“The Spark Math Learning Explained Series” is a 3-part series that gives an overview of the different learning methods Spark Math courseware is made of. We want to share with you how we spark passion for learning that ignites a lifelong love for math. Our curriculum is built to help kids look at math in a different way. Developed by a team of education experts, Spark Math’s proprietary curriculum finds the best ways to help kids understand, absorb, and build practical skills in math. Here’s the second in our series: Spark Math and the UDSC Approach.

## What is the UDSC Approach

The UDSC Approach is all about creating a structure for problem solving. UDSC stands for **U**nderstand,** D**ecide, **S**olve, and** C**heck. This is a step by step way to approach each problem to create the best chance to figure out the best method to solve an answer correctly. With every problem the first step is to **U**nderstand what is being asked. Not all problems can be solved the same way. Once your child know what is being asked, it’s time to **D**ecide what method to use to answer the question. **S**olve the question with the correct method and then **C**heck their work to make sure they don’t lose points on small mistakes. With this system kids can be confident to answer problems one at a time. Each step offers a chance to take a moment to look at a math problem, and use their abilities to make the right choices. The UDSC approach teaches kids the steps to become master problem solvers.

### Understanding the Problem

**Understand the topic and analyze the implied information. Ensure that each student thoroughly understands the meaning of the questions.**

When a student first looks at a math problem, it’s important to get an understanding of what is being asked. While understanding the problem might be a quicker step when solving a simple equation like “2+5”, not all questions are that simple. When dealing with word problems or more advanced math in competitions, understanding what is being asked is key to solving correctly and avoiding careless mistakes. Take time to see what exactly is being asked, so they can start planning an approach.

### Decide on an Approach

**Analyze problems and understand the core of the problem. Develop children’s mastery of similar issues.**

Students should never rush into solving a problem. Every math problem has a strategy to help find the answer. Sometimes there are multiple ways to solve an equation. Finding what works best for the situation can help save time and give options to check the problem later. Taking a few moments to decide on an approach for each problem will add confidence for solving it. When rushing into solving a problem, especially on a test or competition, can add extra test anxiety. Once they have an approach it is time to solve with confidence.

### Solve the Problem

**Focus on the building blocks of math and reinforce the knowledge of standardized solution steps.**

Once students understand the problem and decided on a game plan, it’s time to do the work. Take time and follow the steps to solving you decided on. Rushing through a problem, even if they are certain they have the right answer, can lead to careless mistakes. Finding out that you received a lower grade because you rushed through a question not only hurt your confidence but may distract you in future test. After understanding the problem and figuring out an approach, solving the problem correctly is the reward. Don’t forget that just because the question is solved, doesn’t mean the work is over. Don’t leave doubt in your head after a test, make sure to check over your answers.

### Check the Solution

**Incorporate solutions to the problem and ensure accuracy of results. Develop checking habits to reduce errors and careless mistakes.**

Better safe than sorry is an everyday expression for a reason. Checking an answer, after it’s been solved, can help students find careless mistakes and use other approaches. This final step helps review all the steps in the UDSC approach.

- Did you understand what the question is asking for?
- Are there other approaches to this the question you can try?
- Do the answers match when you double checked your work?

This helps leave every student more confident in moving forward in a test or math competitions. Feeling like everything was done to succeed in a problem, makes it easier to move forward to the next question, moving forward feeling confident every step was taken to succeed.

## How does Spark Math use the UDSC Approach

Using a four-step approach to solve each problem, Spark Math provides students with a roadmap that can be used to solve any problem on their own, not by memorizing answers. Understanding how certain math problems work the way they do, build skills and confidence. Breaking down the problem solving process into steps, builds the skills needed to solve them. These steps also help children when they practice new math approaches. Through practice, students can review the knowledge learned in class and discover their abilities to think independently and solve problems. In-class practice is also a way for Spark Math’s live teachers to assess students strengths and what they need help on.

Math is about figuring out solutions to problems, big and small. The USDC Approach isn’t just about taking test and solving equations. Each step can be used to strengthen the way students learn math and the confidence they feel in their skills. With Spark Math, kids have the support of real teachers and other students to learn how math works. We understand our students are surrounded by information and technology. Developing critical thinking skills to approach new and complex questions, helps them be prepared for anything. The process of understanding a situation, deciding on an approach, solving the problem, and checking the answer, empowers kids and build confidence. With Spark Math students have the chance to train in these skills for the best opportunities in class, competitions, and life.

Now that they have the ability to learn new skills and approach problems, it’s time to transfer those skills to use them in new and exciting ways. Learn more about the CPA Approach in Part 1 Check out Part 3 for more.

*Classes are for children ages 5 to 9. Learn more about how Spark Math by VISPARK helps test preparation, *grows* math scores*,* and *makes* learning fun for your child here! Sign up for a FREE trial class or contact one of our education consultants to learn more at inquiry@sparkedu.com or 1-888-890-3332.*