The answer is “Yes!”

Proponents for classical education place a strong emphasis on rote learning, especially during the Elementary schooling years. The theory is that young minds soak up facts quickly – multiplication tables, languages, names of things and processes – and such knowledge builds a foundation for logic and communication skills in later years. After-school enrichment learning providers, such as Kumon, drill learners with repetitive practice to build confidence in math and English. This method works well for some children, and not so well for others who find it dry and tedious.

Advocates for conceptual thinking and project-based learning argue that in today’s advanced society, facts can easily be accessed using a search engine or calculator. They believe that the world needs problem solvers who can address complex issues such as climate change or disease control. They argue for educators to focus on teaching students how to learn and solve problems. Mathnasium, an after-school enrichment competitor to Kumon, is geared more to this philosophy.

So what should parents do? The truth is that both philosophies are right…and wrong.

A grasp of facts, such as the times table or names of the parts in an animal cell, is important for every child to master. So is the ability for them to understand how a multiplication fact can help in solving an algebra problem or how the parts of an animal cell work together as a system that sustains life. On the other hand, either philosophy, when applied in a dogmatic way, can become destructive. Too much emphasis on rote learning can bore a young learner and extinguish creativity. Excessive problem solving without knowledge of basic facts can become overwhelming and exhausting.

At Oppiya, our curriculum developers strive to maintain harmony between the two.

Our practice (rote) exercises – phonics, math facts, science facts, paragraph correction, grammar foundations, sketching, and the like – build essential knowledge. As an example, we know that everything in math has some component of single digit addition and multiplication, so we provide helpful hints and cues for your child to master their tables without counting on their fingers. Our worksheets then introduce some repetitive computation exercises to build fluency, followed by creative tools, such as fact families, to reinforce the facts.

Our problem solving worksheets – algebra word problems, mental math and probability exercises, essay and poetry reading comprehension sheets, architecture sketches, spatial reasoning puzzles and similar – teach students to break down complex problems into smaller parts, frame issues and build solutions. We believe strongly in developing curiosity and a deep understanding of concepts at an early age. We want your child to have the confidence to develop theories and test them without the fear of failure. This is the best time in their life for that.

Take a tour of our organized curriculum and see for yourself. We have taken the guesswork out of after-school enrichment with a comprehensive curriculum that is clearly laid out and easy-to-use. Let us know what you think…