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When Senior Primary (Grades 4-7) children come to me for extra Maths lessons, the first thing we do is a little test on the board - usually 10 questions of progressive difficulty. After we mark the test, I ask what sport the children play.
Why would I do that, you ask?
Every sport has basic drills that need to be practised and practised again.
In rugby, there’s tackling, rucking and passing. In netball, there’s catching, passing and shooting. In cricket, there’s bowling line and length, defensive batting and catching. In hockey, there’s dribbling, passing and tackling.
And so on…
Maths is exactly the same.
Once I show the children how to arrive at the Maths answers, I rub the answers out and they do it again. This gives me a clear indication of how much they took in from the lesson. Then, it gets rubbed out and done again. Just like in sport, just because you can play one forehand, doesn’t mean you are going to nail it every time.
They need to be able to do the basics without thinking in order to tackle more difficult tasks. This may sound obvious, but it is so tempting to move on once a child has got it right once.
When your Senior Primary children have their Maths homework, do them a favour, mark it for it for them. Regardless of what mark they achieved, ask them to do it again. If they got it mostly wrong, then it will help to put them on the correct path next time. If they got it mostly right, it will help them to speed up and build their confidence enabling them to tackle more difficult sums next time.
Remember, no sports coach calls it a day after the first time his players have got it right.