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 Spark Education is about taking the steps to make learning fun, engaging, and long lasting. Since our inception, we have focused on prioritising students’ learning experience and building fundamental problem-solving skills. The approaches children take to figure out equations are key to building the confidence and abilities to use math in school and beyond.

When nurturing great problem solvers, we have to look at how we approach those equations. Spark Math helps students create a strategy to not only find different ways to solve a problem, but also catch careless mistakes. Having a strategy helps students to decide the best approach they can use to solve a challenging math 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 ignite a lifelong love for math. Our curriculum is built to help children 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 children understand, absorb, and build practical skills in math. Here’s the second in our series: Spark Math and the UDSC Approach.

## The UDSC Approach for problem solving

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 figure out the best method for solving a math problem 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, children can be confident to answer problems one at a time. Each step offers children 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 children the steps to become master problem solvers.

### Understanding the Problem

**Understand the topic and analy****s****e 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 understand what is being asked. While this can be a straightforward step for equations like “2+5”, not all questions are that simple. When dealing with word problems or more advanced math in competitions, understanding the question is key to solving correctly and avoiding careless mistakes. Take the time to read the question carefully and identify the math concepts involved.

### Decide on an Approach

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

Students should never rush into solving a problem. Rushing can add extra test anxiety and cause careless mistakes, especially on a test or competition.

Every math problem has a strategy to help find the answer. Sometimes, there could be multiple ways to solve the question. Deciding on the preferred approach can help students save time and prevent errors. 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 standardi****s****ed solution steps.**

Now, it’s time to do the work. Students can start solving the problem using the approach they have decided on. Make sure to proceed with the chosen approach carefully and go through all the steps needed to find the answer. If it helps, students can review the approach in their minds to ensure that they don’t overlook anything.

### 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. Always check the solution for any errors and careless mistakes. 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 question you can try?
- Do the answers match when you double-checked your work?

The UDSC approach also helps students develop a good habit of solving math problems in a structured manner. This leaves less room for errors that can lead to losing precious marks in a crucial exam or math competition. When faced with a challenging math problem, students will know how to approach them with confidence.

## How does Spark Math use the UDSC Approach?

With this four-step approach, Spark Math provides students with a roadmap to solving math problems beyond memorising answers. Breaking down the problem-solving process into steps helps children build the skills needed to solve them. By honing their problem-solving skills, Spark Math aims to develop higher-order thinking skills in our students. In class, our teachers will guide students through the UDSC approach and break it down to aid in understanding. 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 UDSC Approach provides a structured way for students to understand and improve their problem-solving skills. With Spark Math, children have the support of real teachers and their peers to refine their problem-solving skills in an engaging and conducive environment. There are plenty of opportunities for students to sharpen their skills and get prepared for the best opportunities in class, competitions, and life.

Now that you have read about 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.

*Learn more about how Spark Math by Spark Education helps test preparation, improves math scores, and makes learning fun for your child! Classes are for children ages 3-11. Sign up for a FREE trial class and give your child the head start they need to succeed in school!*