Tag Archives: Primary School Maths

“A” is for the Academic Year

Sometimes there just doesn’t seem to be enough hours in a day to fit in what needs to be done, and there seems to be not enough weeks in the year for the school curriculum. 

There are forty academic weeks to the Australian school year.  This is little enough time to squeeze in the content of the curriculum.  The problem is the school year is not exactly forty weeks.

There are several public holidays to be removed, and then there are “student free” days also to be taken out.  If we remove the school camp that all students seem to be attending these days, sick days and time spent out of school for one reason or another (sports, museums, etc.) then we have a shortened academic year. 

This all puts our teachers and students under pressure as a larger amount of acquired knowledge is squeezed into a reduced amount of attendance time.

“A” initially stood for Academic Year but now I think it should stand for “Attendance”. 

So, how do you make a better student?  Don’t add to the problem by reducing your student’s school attendance by removing them from school for a week-long holiday because it is more convenient.

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“U” is for Understanding the Curriculum

There has been some talk of late about the school curriculum and the changes it is going through.  These changes, like any change, cause ripple effects of anxiety on students, teachers and parents.  But what are the learning expectations of our young students?

I have been looking at www.australiancurriculum.edu.au for some guidance just so I, as a tutor, am aware and aligned with expectations.  I would advise popping onto the website and having a look.  Meanwhile I will give a brief summary focusing on maths as this is the area parent seek the most guidance from tutors.

Year 1

By the end of Year One a school student is expected to know the numbers to one hundred; skip count by 2, 5 and 10; and be able to locate numbers on a number line.  Simple addition is accomplished by counting on, re-arranging or performing partitioning.  Fractions are introduced as they learn to recognise “1/2″ and be able to tell the time to the half hour.

I mentioned only a small area of the curriculum as these are the areas I see most when a student is presented for tuition.  At this stage of learning any short coming in these areas may be made up by parents sitting down with their little one and turn learning into some form of game.  There are several aids available from various websites and suggestions on the Australian Curriculum site.

Year 2

If you are a parent with a young student in Australia, then chances are you have your mind in a muddle as to education expectations.

In Year 1 students have mastered the numbers up to 100 and skip counting by 2, 5 and 10.  This year sees them progress even further on the number line as they move towards recognising and placing order to the numbers to 1,000, and investigate the number sequences of 2, 3, 5 and 10.  It is this year they explore the connection between subtraction and addition.

By the end of this year they will master reading a clock (analogue and digital) to the quarter hour using the words “to” and “past” appropriately.   They will be able to name the months of the year in the correct order as well as the seasons of the year.  They will be able to use a calendar to find the date and know the number of days to the month.

This is only a small amount that is on the curriculum and only relates to maths as this is the area, as a tutor, I see the most problems. 

How can you help your child with their studies?  Do you remember this:“Thirty days has September, April, June and November,all the rest have thirty-one days clear,except February alone which has twenty-eight daysand twenty-nine each leap year.

Year 3

“These are the best years of your life.”, self-assuring words spruiked by many a parent and teacher to seven-year old students who don’t need reassurance after remembering their potty-training years.  They have just cruised through the first two years of primary school, they know all the numbers, the alphabet and can write their name; what else is there to learn?

Year 3 is where many young students realise their world will never be the same again.  It is during this year they discover numbers do not stop at 1,000 but continue all the way to 10,000 and they must know their order, place value, and be able to recognise if they are odd or even!   Not only that but there are numbers smaller than one that no-one told them about as they are introduced to the fractions 1/2, 1/4, 1/3, and 1/5.

When learning the multiplication table by heart for 2, 3, 5 and 10 no-one warned them about having to manage multiplying a two-digit number by a single digit number, without a smart phone.  In fact, they are expected to develop strategies to perform addition and subtraction in their head (mental maths).  Counting on, regrouping and partitioning are all strategies employed to perform mental maths.

It is during this year our students are introduced to metric measurement.  I hear very few complaints from students in our tuition centre about learning measurements.  I simply remind them that learning 1,000 metres equals one kilometre is much easier than remembering there are 1,760 yards to a mile, 22 yards to a chain, or 16 ounces to a pound.

Yes, there is a lot to learn in Year 3 (and this is only maths) and yes, these may be the best years of their life because Year 5 is ahead of them, but we won’t tell them about that yet.

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The Nice Teacher at the Fete – Jemima (aged 8)

TeacherWhen the last sounds of the Children’s laughter for the good chapel service faded away, Miss Lenet cleaned up her classroom for the toy shop at the fete.  She was the kindest teacher in the school and every kid liked her.  That night a robber stole all the toys in the class room.  The next morning she didn’t know what to do.  The older kids that were in her class a long time ago heard about it and they made toys which they took to their old teacher for the shop.  At the fete the kids laughed all day.

By Jemima (Aged 8)

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The Big Escape – Jemima (aged 7)

dog,pig,goatThe goat, the pig and the wild dog escaped from the barn at the same time and they went to hide behind the little apple tree that was near the farmer’s house.  The dog was named Emma and she was friends with the goat named Lolly and her friend named Penny the pig.  After the man left to look for them, they ran quickly to the scary forest because the farmer would be scared to go in.  They slept there for two weeks and picked apples for food. The goat, the pig and the wild dog went back to their home in the nice warm barn.

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The process of choosing a tutor can be daunting and confusing. Generally when a parent is told by a teacher their child is struggling it comes as sudden news to the parent but has been viewed as a gradual process by the teacher or various teachers. One wonders why measures were not taken sooner to halt this process.

For whatever reason your student now requires tuition so how do you choose? I have seen many one-on-one tutors who do very fine work helping the student with maths at their current level and at times this is successful. School results improve and grades come up, but this system has its limitations.

Learning maths is a progressive process building upon previous knowledge of various maths strands until eventually the student is able to solve complex problems by drawing on their various knowledge strands. If there is a hole in their knowledge strands this makes solving these complex problems more difficult. This hole may have appeared years before and not been repaired.

The tuition process you choose should be able to identify these knowledge holes and plug them. By doing this your student is armed with complete knowledge that allows them to move to the top percentage of their class.

Your tutor should be able to identify the time when your child started to have difficulties; set up a program to begin at the point of trouble; move progressively forward plugging up other holes as they are identified; monitor the student’s progress (we do ours daily); provide progressive reports (our parents receive monthly progress reports on students); and set goals that engage and reward students (this keeps them motivated).

This method takes time but produces the best long term results.

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