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Numeracy in primary schools

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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 of number facts; this can be done through playing interactive number games 'a number one less than a multiple of 5' etc. Mental calculations are introduced to children in the autumn term of year 1 at a basic level of addition and subtraction. In key stage 2 these mental calculations have become more complex; children include multiplication and division according to the National Numeracy Strategy. However, these mental calculation strategies are not as straight forward as just asking the class a question in order to get a response, individualisation or 'over-differentiation' in the teaching of mental mathematics has been hailed as a major barrier to the effective learning. ...read more.


As children advance more complex fans can be used, including a decimal place or extra 0. Flip overs are an excellent format for understanding place value, and finally flashback boards not only help the teacher see who is struggling with gaining the correct answer, but with younger children it helps to discover who can write their numbers and place them in the correct form and way around. At an early stage children are taught to split numbers up into five and a bit. This makes addition and subtraction easier for children to manage. For example; 8 = 5 and 3. When adding numbers such as 8 and 7 children split 8 into 5 and 3 and 7 into 5 and 2 leaving the sum to be 5+5=10 3+2=5 and finally 10+5=15. In key stage 2 this strategy expands into hundreds tens and ones. See appendix A for examples of questions taken from the National Numeracy Strategy. Year Group: Year 3 Numbers and the number system - Know what each digit represents. Partition numbers into hundreds, tens and ones. This activity is used in conjunction with the computer software 'Textease' it can be used as part of a whole class activity or in small groups. ...read more.


It is the third stage that is linked with key stage 2 as children develop a degree of logic and reason, but it is limited to practical problems and specific examples, they master principles of classification, seriation - the ability to organise objects into some kind of order, for example order or size, class inclusion and, eventually, full conservation of volume, number and quantity. Individual children develop at different rates, due to their rate of physical development it is up to teachers to help and differentiate class work to coincide with the children's development. However an alternative to Piaget's' view of cognitive development was provided by the Russian literary critic and psychologist Vygotsky. He distinguished between lower functions of human psychology like recognizing and sensation, and higher functions like thinking and understanding. According to Vygotsky 'What a child can do in cooperation today, he can do alone tomorrow'. He talks about the Zone of Proximal Development, which is their level of actual development of their level of potential development, what they can do with help of an instructor. The ZPD is an indicator of the teachability of the child. Vygotsky suggested it gave a better measure of a child's capacity than any test of current ability, such as an intelligence test. Mairead Mitchell - 1 - ...read more.

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