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Developing Confident Learners

01 december 2016

On Tuesday after school we held one of our popular Parent Workshop events. This week the focus was maths and there were nearly 50 families attending.

  • Primary

Stage One was buzzing with excited voices and activity. It was lovely to see so many children from Y1 and Y2 so enthusiastic about learning maths and so many parents there to encourage and support them.

This was particularly pleasing as often maths gets a bad name. In the past some of us will remember tedious, repetitive exercises copied from a text book, that were marked with a tick or a cross, and then being told after all that effort to ‘do our corrections’. It was satisfying if you got things right, soul destroying if you got things wrong.

Fortunately the teaching of maths in primary has changed a lot since then. Instead of the ‘right or wrong’ mentality we encourage a ‘trial and error’ approach. Maths is not only about learning a skill, but about being able to apply it in a familiar, purposeful and useful way. Teachers now use real life examples to teach maths; for example teaching the concepts of measuring when a class model is being made or calculating costs and profit in a fundraising enterprise. Often the children are given challenges and puzzles where they use their knowledge and skills in maths to help them find different solutions. They explain their thinking, and will demonstrate creativity in their thought processes that can be amazing. This is far away from simply rote learning to get the correct answers that I remember. 

In today’s classroom maths is often a social activity where ideas are shared and problems solved together. This makes it more fun for the children as they learn from each other. Children enjoy learning as a team and another benefit is that they are not exposed or embarrassed when they make mistakes. In fact, making mistakes is seen as interesting rather than wrong, and so becomes part of the learning process; in this way the children become confident learners. We could see that clearly on Tuesday.

Below are some websites that you may want to use to encourage a love of maths in your child:

http://nrich.maths.org/frontpage

or for younger children

http://nrich.maths.org/primary-lower

And don’t forget to continue to help them memorise their number bonds and times tables, which I know many of you do. They tell me! It is still very important to ensure that they are confident and quick in calculations so they can use them in interesting and creative ways.

Eleanor Jess, Head of Primary

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