Friday, 19 April 2013

TImes tables angst

I can't help thinking that our year 3 children are being pressed a little too hard when it comes to learning their times tables.

I know it will be a difficult week next week as far as homework is concerned. I predict tears, frustration, shouting, a desire to tear up the homework sheet. (And that's just from me, let alone our 8-year-old daughter!).

Having had just one week on the six times table, we're now onto the 3 minute test with a combo of x2, x3, x4 and x6. It is not clear to me how much they are meant to be learning by rote, and how much they are just practising by whatever means until they are really quick.

I wish they were just taking a bit longer over it. I feel as though a week longer at each stage would do a lot of good. Aforementioned daughter is doing additions and subtractions to get to where she should be in the table (so, 60 take away 6 for 9x6 for example). This is probably why 7 times anything is very slow to achieve. It's not a bad way of doing it, it's just painfully slow at times as a fog descends around the otherwise clear-thinking brain and she gets in a tizz.

The pressure of feeling she needs to learn all this by the time she is in year 4 doesn't exactly help either. Are all schools like this? All kids? Or is it peculiar to our girl who hates to get things wrong (but often resists advice on how to get it right)?

Fortunately she likes school and is doing alright. It's hard enough for us, but what is it like for parents whose kids really don't even want to try? It must take a skilled teacher indeed to handle the differences in abilities without making such young children feel as though they are starting to fail already when they struggle with this.

I hope we're not going to have a whole term of this, but by my calculations (no. of times tables left x estimated number of weeks per table = 15, see how I can put it into practice) we've a long way to go yet. Or if they really do hope to get it by year 4, it is going to be such a rush job they'll need to repeat it all anyway.  Which goes back to my original point really, apart from the very few to whom it comes naturally, they are being pressed a little too hard.



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