The Battle For Balance

The Battle For Balance

High school students know the struggle of time management all too well.

Throughout primary school, we managed our home readers, maths worksheets and the occasional poster or diorama without thinking about it. All of a sudden, we reached year 7 and we’re expected to spread our afternoon across 8 subjects worth of homework and assignments as well as any work we didn’t finish during the day’s lesson.

For some students, the struggle to do it all can be dangerous. They strive to keep up with their homework, yet their to-do list only grows longer, so students regularly stay up until the early hours of the morning, sacrificing sleep, exercise and self-care. They know this routine isn’t sustainable, yet in our workaholic “hustle” culture it’s nearly impossible to see an alternative way to succeed.

The school curriculum is designed to share knowledge about the world and give students the skills they need for the world they’ll graduate into. By this logic, the school years are also a training ground for students to develop the time management practices and principles that will enable them to succeed in life after school.

Here are 3 tips that every student should know to achieve a healthy balance between life and study:

A paradigm for prioritising.

One of the books I read and re-read in high school and my early university days was The 7 Habits of Highly Effective Teens by Sean Covey. It’s based on the bestselling The 7 Habits of Highly Effective People by Stephen R. Covey, but has been revised with examples and scenarios relevant to teenagers. Both Covey’s write about ‘The Time Quadrants’ but you might have heard of this called the ‘Eisenhower Matrix’. It is a 2 x 2 table divided into:

  1. Important and urgent,
  2. Important but not important,
  3. Not important but urgent,
  4. Not urgent and not important.

Adapting this framework to a student’s to-do list would look something like this:

STEP ONE: List all homework and assessment activities and their due dates.

STEP TWO: Sort them into the following categories:

  1. Homework that is due tomorrow (important and urgent),
  2. Assignments and exam revision (important but not important)’
  3. Recommended readings for tomorrow’s class (not important but urgent),
  4. Optional extension activities that are relevant but shouldn’t be done until more important tasks are up-to-date (not important and not urgent).

By following this guide, you can tame your to-do list in less than 20 minutes and work out where your focus should be in the present.

Once we’ve prioritised our to-do list, we have to do the work. The next tool for effective time management is what I call time-blocking.

STEP THREE: Estimate the time it will take to complete each task.

Be realistic and round up by 5-10 minutes. If your teacher says to spend 15 minutes writing a paragraph, allot 20 minutes. If you think the maths worksheet will take 20 minutes, allow 30 minutes. Most people underestimate how long it takes to complete a task so it’s wise to leave some margin.

STEP FOUR: Break it down

If the task will take over 45 minutes to complete, break the task into smaller pieces. You could divide 2 hours of research into 4 x 30 minutes blocks or divide a 90 minute essay into:

  • Introduction (10 minutes)
  • Body paragraph 1 (20 minutes)
  • Body paragraph 2 (20 minutes)
  • Body paragraph 3 (20 minutes)
  • Conclusion (10 minutes)
  • Proofread (10 minutes)

Time-blocking is crucial for students who work slowly and carefully to make sure they get everything right, since they are the students most prone to sacrificing sleep, exercise and self-care to finish a never-ending to-do list.

Change your definition of productivity.

Instead of asking yourself, “Did I complete the task in the time I set?”, time-blocking allows you to re-frame effectiveness as “Did I focus during the time set?”.

  • If you answered “no”, then you need to identify and manage distractions.
  • If you answered “yes”, but the task still isn’t done, you may need to re-evaluate how realistic your time estimates were or whether you are putting more time into a task than the teacher is asking you to. You might have to shuffle some time blocks to tomorrow to get the task done tonight (if it’s important and urgent) or allocate an additional time block to the task another day.

In some cases, it is possible that your child has been assigned an unrealistic amount of homework or that the teacher’s expectations about what tasks are and are not for homework are unclear. If you think this is the case, speak to your child’s teacher.

Spending too much time on homework is counter-productive to learning (which is the goal of homework) because you are compromising on your body’s need for rest and movement which help your mind to retain the information and skills you are revising.

Sleep is non-negotiable

High school students, whether they’re in Year 7 or Year 12 need at least 8-10 hours of sleep each night.

Contrary to popular opinion, you cannot catch up a sleep debt. Sleeping in more on the weekends might help you to feel better, but you cannot buy back lost sleep. This is because one of the many functions of sleep is moving short term memories (what we learned that day ) into long-term memory. The brain creates new synaptic connections and reinforces or changes neural pathways, linking new information to what we already know, and organising it in a way that helps us to recall that information when we are awake.

We go through several sleep cycles a night, and when we compromise on the amount of sleep we get during the week, short-term memories miss their opportunity to be consolidated into long-term memory. Sleep only works on what you’ve earned that day, so if you learned something on Monday and stayed up all night doing homework, sleeping less that you need to, your extra efforts aren’t going into long term memory.

We also know that when we are well-rested, we focus better and actually get more done in the same amount of time, meaning your time blocks will be even more effective.

We can’t hack our biology and overworking does not equal effective learning, but balance does.

Nepean Tutoring cares about the whole student because we know that that achieving success is supported by a healthy body and a healthy mind. Our tutors not only help students with assignments and homework, we also help students to get organised. If your child needs help with time management, Contact Us to see how we can support your child to success.

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Exams: They’re about more than grades

Exams: They’re about more than grades

What if I told you that there is more to exams than striving for a certain grade? Many students, particularly studious HSC candidates approaching their trial exams, would be astonished to hear this. Actually, they probably wouldn’t believe it at all. That’s not hard to understand because of the amount of air time given to talking about grades and marks and passes and fails.

Of course, marks are easy to measure and compare with previous personal bests or to compare with classmates and siblings. You don’t have as much hard data to measure and compare how much more you know about the causes and effects of the Vietnam War since the start of term or how much more confident you feel tackling quadratic equations in word problems since last year. As we know, exam questions are designed to prompt you to show how much you’ve learned over the topic or course.
However, as many disgruntled students say, “What’s the point of exams? I won’t have to do exams once I’m working.” Depending on your career, you may be right, but that doesn’t automatically mean that exams are pointless.

Firstly, we need to think about what assessments are for. Assignments and exams give teachers quantitative (numerical) data to support their qualitative (observational) assessment of a student’s learning. Assessment marks help teachers to give appropriate feedback to guide and extend the student’s learning.

Exams are one half of a holistic assessment program. They are designed to test a student’s subject knowledge and challenge them to move beyond recalling information to applying what they’ve learned to new scenarios. The other 50% is assignments which the student’s prepare at home over several weeks or months and submit. Assignments also test a student’s application of knowledge, but specifically focus on creative problem solving. For example, if a student is tasked with making a poster about Ancient Egypt, they have to research their information and then communicate it through written and visual methods to show what they’ve found out. The poster tests their knowledge, but also challenges them to present their information in a creative, visually appealing, and memorable way. The benefit of this two-pronged assessment program is so that all learning styles and learning needs are catered for when it comes to assessment. This also implies that critical and creative skills are equally necessary for students to learn.
Exams test the breadth of a student’s knowledge and their depth of understanding. A good test for when we know something well is that we can apply those principles to a new situation. To test mathematical knowledge, you could ask questions such as:

  • How many minutes will it take to get to the shops if the shops are 10km away and we are travelling at 60km/h?
  • How many seeds can I plant in our garden bed if I can plant 1 seed in each hole, each hole in 5cm apart, and our garden bed is 1m x 0.5m?
  • How long will it take me to save for a $200 scooter if I earn $10 each week for doing the chores? (In fact, you could use this example as a springboard to expend their financial literacy by asking them to find which store will sells the same scooter for the lowest price including shipping.)

In each of these examples, we have applied textbook knowledge to everyday scenarios in a way that requires creative thinking understand the problem and find the most efficient solution.

Similarly, the time pressure of exams, while nerve-wracking, helps us to develop decision making and evaluative skills under a deadline. These situations arise in every workplace.

  • You load the truck and realise that the strap keeping the pallets in place is frayed. The delivery is on a deadline. Do you replace the strap and call the customer to say you’ll be a few minutes late, or do you determine that the strap is functional and passes all WHS requirements and is safe to use but you will keep an eye on it?
  • Your boss asks you why you made a certain decision so you have to justify your choices and persuade them that your decision was in the best interests of the business.
  • You’re in charge of evaluating your household electricity contract. You need to choose between Company A whose rates are the cheapest but their customer service is average, Company B who is more expensive but gives you discounts to a few of the shops you use regularly, or Company C whose rates are the same as Company B but who promises to offset your energy with a clean energy scheme. What you choose depends on what your values are, which will be different in every household.

Of course, it’s entirely reasonable to say that exams aren’t a reliable form of knowledge testing because students study for a test, accumulate a superficial understanding of the topic, and then forget about it as soon as they walk out of the exam room. Exams, you might say, focus a student’s learning on achieving a certain grade instead of acquiring relevant knowledge and transferable skills.
However, that’s exactly what teaching study skills in class and in tutoring is all about. Some students pick up these skills really quickly but many students don’t see the point of regular revision, or creating a study routine, or indeed, studying at all when they’re rewarded for cramming for a grade the night before the test. This is why we need to address the fundamental misunderstanding that exams are purely for assessment purposes.

Most clients come to Nepean Tutoring to improve their grades and our expert tutors are certainly up to the job. More importantly, though, our focus is holistic. We foster confidence and curiosity in our students which prepares them for real-life problem solving where there isn’t always one right answer. We help students to plan realistic and regular revision into their busy schedules so that they understand and remember what they’re learning, helping them to succeed in school and in life.

Are you searching for success? Look no further than Nepean Tutoring. Contact Us today for a free consultation.

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Inspiring growth through constructive critique

Inspiring growth through constructive critique

Ah, half-yearly reports. Some students are thrilled to see their achievements praised by their teachers. For others, it’s a time of dread where they feel like they don’t measure up to expectations. For both groups, learning to receive constructive criticism is a crucial life skill.

We encounter feedback situations throughout life; in performance reviews at work, teacher’s comments on an assignment, suggestions given by our doctors, and the reactions of people we talk to based on how we’ve acted. The ability to consider feedback increases our ability to learn and work independently, promotes self-awareness and self-improvement, and helps us to more effectively communicate with others.

Unfortunately, not all feedback is helpful and not all helpful feedback is delivered kindly. So how do we give constructive criticism?

The purpose of giving feedback is to improve performance. As teachers, parents, and carers, we give our children feedback to guide and shape their behaviour so that they will become respectful and cooperative members of our families and communities.

Giving feedback is a relational exercise that has the potential to grow and strengthen the receiver and the relationship between the giver and the receiver. To avoid damaging the precious relationship between us and our children, it’s important that our feedback is intentional and well prepared. Here are some helpful principles to think about as you approach giving feedback, and don’t worry; once you’ve done it a few times, the art of providing effective, kind feedback will become second nature.

1. Preparation is key

Preparing what you say helps you to stay on track and stick to the issue at hand. It isn’t helpful when one suggestion becomes a list of improvements that leaves a child feeling like they can never do anything right. Likewise, praise for a great exam mark should remain positive, instead of being used solely to raise the benchmark, leaving the child feeling like the initial achievement wasn’t good enough. The solution is to limit your focus to avoid message overload. Use specific statements such as ‘I like it when you…’ and ‘I was so proud to hear that…’ and save off-topic comments for another time.

2. Be sensitive

Think about your motive for giving feedback. The purpose of feedback is to inspire growth, whether that is growth through a change in behaviour or aiming to beat a personal best. Negative feedback is better done in private, so that your child feels psychologically safe and more open to hearing what you have to say. When negative feedback is given in public, a child can feel belittled and  discouraged. Similarly, depending on the student, positive feedback given in front of others is mortifying. In that scenario, opt for a quiet word in private to let them know you recognise their achievement and you’re proud of them.

3. Timely and regular

Effective feedback is timely feedback. Part of the problem with biannual reports is that there is so much pressure to summarise two terms of school work into a few sentences, meaning a lot can be missed. Instead of giving all your observations at report time, make feedback a regular part of parent-child discussions. You could ask your child what they learned from each assignment or exam after they complete it, and discuss their teacher’s feedback when their results are released. Perhaps before parent-teacher interviews, you could have your own parent-child interview to tell your child what you’ve noticed over the term and ask them for their reflections.

4. Use ‘I’ statements

Just like arguing, ‘I’ statements help us to avoid accusations and generalisations. We want our students to be open-minded listeners when receiving feedback and willing to consider what we have to say. ‘I’ statements show that the feedback you’re giving has been observed from your personal experience, and sets up your specific expectations so your child understands where you’re coming from.

5. Ask questions

Giving your child a chance to reflect and respond is crucial to helping them become a self-reflective learner. Asking questions guides their reflective process and encourages them to respond using reason and evidence. Asking them for their insights, and listening actively, also gives them the chance to explain their actions and maybe even correct some assumptions beneath the feedback they’ve received. You might even ask “How can I support you?” which opens space for them to ask for help.

6. What’s next?

Most of us are naturally resistant to critique because it makes us feel vulnerable. However, listening to criticism is a challenge that brings with it a tremendous opportunity to learn and grow. As we notice our own growth, or our growth is affirmed by others, our self-esteem, emotional maturity, courage and resilience improve. An effective way to foster a growth mindset in your child is to conclude the conversation by setting SMART (Specific, Measurable, Achievable, Relevant, Time-bound) goals or a SMART next step by which they can measure their own growth. It’s a good idea to encourage them to write down, draw, or record their resolutions in some way so that the next time you sit down together, they can reflect on what they’ve learned and how they’ve changed.

Overall, constructive criticism is collaborative, allowing the receiver to respond to feedback and participate in determining their next steps. When done well, feedback strengthens relationships between parents/teachers/tutors and their students and empowers the student’s future learning and development.

At Nepean Tutoring, our tutors are exceptional communicators who work with their students to deliver critique in an effective, sensitive, and age-appropriate manner. We know that knowledge and growth come when students know they’re engaged in their own leaning process. We encourage our students to set their own learning goals and tailor our lessons to support them to achieve their goals. Our tutors recognise each student’s achievements and encourage them to become self-reflective learners for life who are equipped to face the challenges of the future workforce.

If you’re looking for a tutor to join your child’s educational support team, look no further than our experienced local tutors. Contact us today for a free consultation.

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Curiosity: Toddlers have got it right

Curiosity: Toddlers have got it right

Since the iPhone brought the internet out of cyber cafes and into our pockets, our worlds have grown smaller. We might think that increased access to Google means that we’ve become more curious, but curiosity is actually more about the questions we ask than the answers we reach.

Toddlers are the most curious people I know. Spend a day with any child who has learned the word ‘Why?’ and you know exactly what I mean.

‘Why can’t I have ice cream for dinner?’

‘Why do we have to hold hands?’

‘Why do fish need water?’

Any answer you give elicits another question, and another, and another.

When did we grow out of our curiosity?

We all want our students to develop open, inquiring minds, but what qualities are we actually looking for? What questions do we want them to ask? And what is the end goal of all this questioning that we’re asking them to do?

Adults are keenly aware that the nature of the workforce has changed and the days of 30-year service awards are disappearing Current statistics reveal that millennials change careers every few years in search of better pay, better conditions, and new ways to use their skills and pursue their passions. It’s highly likely that current school students will join this self-directed protean career path in search of fulfillment, reinventing their careers as their work environment and interests change. If they can’t find the job they want that supports their values, they’ll probably create it.

Organisations are now looking for T-shaped employees who have deep skills and expertise in an area (vertical) and proactively collaborate across different disciplines (horizontal) to contribute to their area of knowledge and others fields of expertise. T-shaped employees are curious about their own areas of interest, and genuinely desire to harness other people’s expertise and use that knowledge to contribute to the social knowledge community. Whether your child wants to be a politician, a brick layer, a musician, an accountant, a teacher, or a full-time parent, curiosity is an essential workplace skill.

But there is more to education than preparing for a career, and there is more to curiosity than gaining marketable skills. Curiosity is also an essential life skill.

In 2019, Associate Professor Mario Di Paolantonio wrote a study about curiosity in education where he made the case that education and learning helps us to achieve self-improvement and self-actualisation. By understanding ourselves and the world we live in, we are better equipped to contribute to social improvement, which is intimately linked to the careers we choose.

In other words, there is more to learning than brain work or intellect. Our learning informs and engages our passions, sense of purpose and meaning which in turn increases our learning and our capacity for meaningful contribution.

This corresponds with psychology’s concept of the four types of intelligence:

  • IQ (Intelligence Quotient): understanding and remembering information and being able to apply your knowledge to different situations.
  • EQ (Emotional Quotient): emotional intelligence, or the ability to understand and manage your own emotions and empathise with others.
  • SQ (Social Quotient): your ability to make and maintain relationships.
  • AQ (Adversity Quotient), also known as resilience.

Curiosity is fundamental to each of these. To grow in intelligence, academic talent is less important than willingness to learn. To have positive and fulfilling relationships with ourselves and others ,we need to be genuinely curious about or our own inner lives as well as those of others. To be resilient, we need problem solving skills which requires us to be curious about creative solutions.

So how to we encourage curiosity in our students? The rise of project-based learning and increased focus on independent learning in upper primary and high school is a positive trend, but since learning happens in all areas of life, not just in the classroom, we need to support our children’s curiosity at home too.

  1. Be a curiosity role model

Share your discoveries with your family. Admit when you don’t know an answer and find out together. The best way to encourage your child’s in-class participation is by encouraging them to ask questions at home and reminding them that there are no silly questions.

  1. Create space for wonder

Allow free time in your family schedules to give students time to think deeply instead of accepting the first answer. There is usually more than one way to get the answer in maths, more than one method to test an idea in science, and more than one meaning to an English text. Include space in your own schedule to be available for them to ask you questions too.

  1. Ask open-ended questions

Curiosity questions the status quo. Encourage the use of examples in family discussions and debates. Ask questions to guide your child to discovering the answer for themselves and respect their ideas, no matter their age or limited experience: they have potential.

  1. Utilise mistakes

Mistakes are excellent learning opportunities. As students get older, resist doing the problem-solving for them. Instead, guide them to acknowledge the mistake and brainstorm solutions. Likewise, reward learning as well as great marks.

  1. Encourage empathy

By being interested in other people’s experiences of nationality, gender, job, culture and belief systems, we develop empathy. Curiosity reduces stereotyping, increases community and team mindsets, and helps us to practise genuine listening skills.

At Nepean Tutoring, our tutors value and intentionally foster curiosity in their students. We know we can’t prepare the world for our students, but by helping them develop the knowledge, skills and confidence to solve problems, we prepare them for the world that awaits them. Are you interested in tutoring for your child? Contact us today to see how we can support your child’s curiosity and their future.


Di Paolantonio, M. The Malaise of the Soul at Work: The Drive for Creativity, Self-Actualization, and Curiosity in Education. Studies in Philosophy and Education 38, 601–617 (2019). DOI: 10.1007/s11217-019-09653-4.

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Science confirms multisensory learning enhances memory

Science confirms multisensory learning enhances memory

You might have heard the saying that people remember:

  • 10% of what they read
  • 20% of what they hear
  • 30% of what they see
  • 50% of what they hear and see
  • 70% of what they say
  • 90% of what they say and do.

These percentages, represented visually in D.G. Treichler’s Cone of Experience, illustrate that memory is most effective when more than one of our senses (sight, hearing, taste, smell, touch) are engaged in the learning process. While Treichler qualified that the statistics were not 100% scientific, his idea helpfully illustrates the importance of a multisensory approach to learning.

What is multisensory learning?

Multisensory refers to any teaching or revision method where more than one of the senses is engaged. Of course, more than one sense is always engaged in any of our daily experiences because our brains are always hearing, smelling, tasting, feeling and seeing even when we aren’t consciously aware of it. Adopting a multisensory approach to learning, however, requires intentionally teaching and studying in a way that appeals to more than one of the learner’s senses.

Suits all learning needs and styles

Multisensory learning is not just for kinaesthetic learners who learn best when they engage their sense of touch through movement (actions and gestures), performance (doing a task themselves), or tactile stimulation (such as feeling the differences between two shapes or textures). Multisensory learning is actually the best way for parents and educators to appeal to the variety of learning styles and learning needs in the classroom and the home.

Most of us rely on one or two senses more than the others or have a preferred learning style. However, that combination is different for everybody and even though we know what works best for us doesn’t mean we can’t benefit from multisensory learning. Similarly, for students with learning difficulties such as Dyslexia and ADHD, multisensory learning encourages concentration and helps these students to understand, recall and synthesise knowledge in the way that they learn best.

#Brain #Memory

Our brains are wired for multisensory learning. Studies using fMRI, which detects blood flow within the brain, have shown that students with the strongest literacy skills are those with the greatest interactivity between different parts of the brain. This tells us that several areas of our brains are involved in the acts of moving short-term memory to long-term memory. Likewise, multiple areas of the brain are used to help us retrieve memories so that we can apply that knowledge to new situations.In a 2008 study, Shams et. al. argued that multisensory learning helps our brains to categorise knowledge and file it in several places so that it can be retrieved easily. This is similar to taking a photo and adding #Paris #Romance #EiffelTower #Croissants #Picnic to your caption. When looking for that photo, you only need the vaguest notion that it was a picture of the Eiffel Tower and that you could smell croissants. Type those tags into the search bar, and voila!

So, does that mean that I should listen to music or burn a scented candle when I’m studying?

Well, it’s not quite that simple.

Distraction and sensory overload

As every learner knows, when too many of our senses are engaged, our senses become overloaded and our ability to concentrate and remember is compromised.

A recent study by Rau Pei-Luen Patrick et. al. affirmed that we receive information using multiple senses but when a task requires one sense more than others (such as reading relying mostly on sight), too much input from other senses (such as a noisy classroom or study space) becomes distracting.

The multisensory home

Walk into any classroom and you’ll notice that several senses are involved in each learning task. There are posters on the walls, a variety of digital and paper technologies, different coloured whiteboard or smartboard markers, and students can use coloured pens and highlighters. Even in high school, students alternate between reading in silence, reading aloud, taking notes, writing essays, doing experiments, making art, drawing flow charts or mind maps, and watching videos to involve multiple senses in the learning process.

But what about the place they do their homework?

How do we eliminate distractions as well as engage multiple senses?

Rau Pei-Luen Patrick et. al. noted that while there are undeniable trends in the data, what works for one student is quite different to the next. The key is to intentionally engage several senses while learning to assist memory. Here are some ideas to try at home:

  • Light a scented candle when studying. Recalling the scent can help you to remember what you learned.
  • Most people find that lyrics are distracting, so try playing soft instrumental music or white noise instead. If you don’t like instrumentals, try listening to music with lyrics in another language so you can’t recognise the words.
  • Colour-code concepts or subjects using coloured pens, textas, highlighters, or coloured paper. For example, highlight verbs in green and adjectives in blue, metaphors in pink and similes in yellow, or write names in red and dates in blue.
  • Get creative with illustrations, diagrams and models. This can work for maths and the sciences, as well as text-based subjects like English and History. Bonus tip: use paint or chalk to enhance the textures and colours.

How can a tutor help?

At Nepean Tutoring, our tutors are perceptive and understanding, and they target their tutoring methods according to each child’s unique learning styles and needs. Our client testimonials speak for themselves. If you would like to see how a tutor can help your child’s learning, we’d love to chat to you.

D.G. Treichler, “Are you missing the boat in training aids?” Accessed online.
Pei-Luen Patrick, Rau., et. al. “Distractive effect of multimodal information in multisensory learning.” Computers & Education, vol. 144, January 2020,
Shams, Ladan., et. al. “Benefits of multisensory learning.” Trends in Cognitive Sciences, vol. 12, no. 11, 2008, pp. 411-417,

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Is knowing your times tables overrated?

Is knowing your times tables overrated?

It is a common misconception that since calculators are used more often in schools and since calculators are freely accessible on our phones (and even our watches!) that learning multiplication times tables by heart is as outdated as an accountant using an abacus.

It may surprise you that knowing your times tables is still a relevant and essential skill for students to master. While times tables are taught in primary school, many students reach high school without an adequate understanding of multiplication. This unnecessarily increases the challenge of learning long division, equivalent fractions, ratios and percentages which are foundational mathematical skills used in everyday life.
Calculators are handy for checking big sums or making complex calculations but being reliant on them while learning the foundations of maths reduces a student’s ability to understand the logic behind the calculations they’re doing. Knowing their times tables by heart means that children understand the basic components of the more complex mathematical problems they will encounter. How many $1.00 cans of tomatoes can I buy for $5.00? How many ¼ cups of flour do I need to make 2 cups? If each banana weights 200g, how many bananas will I get in a kilogram?

When children know their times tables from memory, that brain space spent calculating simple multiplication is freed up to understand more complex calculations. Rote learning cops a lot of criticism, but for learning times tables repetition is the only way to go. Where rote learning falls down is when we memorise information without understanding it. However, by teaching and revising multiplication in a multitude of creative ways, repetition can be a fun and effective way to learn.

Mathematical study at home is equally as important as regular reading practise. It is essential that parents and carers spend time with their children revising these concepts to increase their children’s exposure with basic concepts which builds their confidence when tackling more complex ones in class.

So where do we start?

  1. Start where they’re at. If we bombard them with concepts they aren’t ready for or concepts they feel anxious about because they haven’t grasped simpler concepts, go back to basics and work up from there.
  2. Make it visual. Arrange pegs, LEGO, or plastic army soldiers in rows to demonstrate how 2 x 8 = 16 and 8 x 2 = 16. Once this is understood, show that 16 ÷ 2 = 8 and 16 ÷ 8 = 2. This method of physical arrangement is called an ‘array’. And it doesn’t just have to be 3D items, you can draw on paper too, but make it colourful.
  3. Regular revision. Use flash cards with the sum on one side and the answer on the other and run through a few each day. Use a deck of cards and for every two you place down, ask the student to multiply them. Say the full sum aloud each time to get all the components and patterns to stick. Play speed rounds to promote quicker recall and increase the challenge.
    If your child is struggling, the support of a tutor is incredibly valuable for helping them master mathematical ideas and grow their self-confidence. The wealth of life experience provided by parents, teachers and tutors also give students perspective on how vital mathematics is to real life and how it links to the things they’re passionate about. With enough encouragement and support, students can understand and even enjoy maths and will reap those benefits for the rest of their lives.

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