Numeracy in primary schools Essay

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Numeracy in primary schools

Numeracy is very important in primary schools today, with mental calculations being a central part of the mathematics curriculum. These mental methods of calculation should be encouraged from an early age, mathematics is used in our everyday lives without many of us realising; checking our change at the shops and leaving the house in order to arrive at school on time.

It is advised that Numeracy lessons start with a 5-10 minute starter of oral or mental calculation work, working as a whole class to rehearse, sharpen and develop the children’s skills. Various ways can be used to sharpen these skills including counting in steps of different sizes, practising mental calculations and the rapid recall
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These studies noted that allowing children to work as an individual provided many opportunities for avoidance strategies. Holt
(1984) introduced the idea of ‘fence straddlers’ these were pupils who prefers to leave the thinking to other students, they tended to; “produce a mime of tortured contemplation while waiting for someone else to respond”. Measor and Woods (1984) introduced ‘knife edgers’ these were children who preferred, to a majority, to leave the thinking to others. However they went as far as to raise their hands, showing their participation in the lessons, but timing their participation so it was unlikely that they would be asked for the answer. Lastly we have ‘easy riders’ these were devised by Galtan and Wilcocks (1983) these pupils developed the idea and skill of working at the slowest pace possible. It was also noted that in mathematics it was not unusual for “as many as 80 per cent of the pupils to be engaged in easy riding”.

Possible due to this research many teachers find that it is helpful to teach mental mathematics to children organised into pairs. Some teachers believe in mixing the ability of the children in the pairs, with the intention of supporting and encouraging the less confident, whereas other teachers believe that by mixing the ability of the pairs it can lead to the more able or confident child restricting the contribution of their
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