When it comes to math, I’ve been describing the work I do as enrichment for some time now. My idea of teaching math is to focus on thought process and problem solving, rather than specific content. I like playing Nim and doodling stars more than practicing algorithms.
I use this material as a way to show how fun the creative side of mathematics is. In the process of playing with these ideas, students learn about all sorts of things including number sense, spatial reasoning, and if/then thinking. These ideas are challenging and engaging for students at any level, regardless of their strength or passion for math. The benefits for advanced students are obvious, but this approach is particularly important for kids who say they “hate math,” as it challenges their ideas of what “math” really is. Playing catch-up by focusing on skills will only go so far with these students who think they don’t like math.