With the Christmas Break fast approaching I thought I might give you some ideas for maths activities over the break to keep skills and knowledge sharp.
My first recommendation is that maths sessions over the break are kept to 20 minutes in length. There are many reasons for this but here are the headlines.
- 20 minute sessions are much more likely to happen.
If your family’s holidays are anything like ours then fitting an hour of work for a subject can be trying to say the least. Finding a 20 minute slot in the day is much more likely to be successful. Also, there is less likely to be have to be a battle/evasion techniques/sudden cases of the disappearing pre-teen (we experience them all and many more in our household.) if your child knows that after 20 minutes they will be free to do something of their choosing.
- 20 minute sessions give you more bang for your buck (or minute in this case!).
As time passes when we are concentrating our output and productivity drop significantly. Keeping a session to 20 minutes in length means that your child will be able to give their full focus and attention for the whole time. If they are settling down for an hour then much of the time will be spent looking at the clock willing the time to pass rather than actually doing maths (even if you are supposed to be studying time!)
- Having a break can help your memory.
By putting a break in between each session of maths (or any other subject) studied means that the information has to be recalled and this frequent fetching of information is exactly how information is moved from your short term to your long term memory. If you are old enough to remember the world before mobile phones there is a wonderful example of this. When I was at school I knew at least 20 phone numbers off by heart as they were people I called frequently. These days I cannot remember my own phone number. While the aging process will be responsible for some of this, the main reason is that I now carry my long term memory for phone numbers in my pocket rather than my head. If I was regularly and frequently retrieving the information then it would have made the move from my short term memory to my long term.
Secondly I would like to recommend a couple of resources.
The first is the Nrich website. This is an organisation based at Cambridge university and there are literally thousands of stimulating and interesting articles, games and investigations to try. If your child is in year 7 they have been doing the ‘Have You Got It’ investigation. Try playing this game with them. They may surprise you.
The second is the 4 nums game. The instructions are on the page but this is an excellent and creative way to practice basic arithmetic which is always useful and beneficial. Again try playing with your child. There is no more powerful way to show them that maths is important to you and once you have done that, it will be to them.
Have a wonderful Christmas.
Mr David Spragg
Head of Maths