My Approach to Mathematics
Children in UK primary schools will have to take part in a formal test in their year group, where they will be expected to answer a range of questions that assess their reasoning skills. Reasoning out the answer requires a pupil to examine if the final solution is logical and practical. It is not enough just to know how to solve the problem. Students must also be able to articulate why they chose a particular strategy and the steps they followed to solve the problem.
I believe, in order to do this, the children must first become fluent in a skill, and then move on to problem solving activities, which test their application of these skills; and finally onto logical reasoning which, in turn, empowers them to apply the skill in a range of different situations.
Look at the following example:
"The only way to learn mathematics is to do mathematics."
6 people can sit at each table at a wedding. How many tables are needed for 175 guests?
Children need to first understand the problem and then answer it mathematically. When they complete the calculation, they will arrive at the answer 129 ⅙ . Often children stop here. After all, they have an answer so they must be correct. However, what’s missing is the reasoning element of solving the problem. If the children reasoned well, they would realise that it is impossible to have 129 ⅙ tables. Therefore, 130 tables are needed in order to sit all the guests at the wedding.
My teaching closely follows this example in mathematics. I teach the subject's objectives with precision, encouraging the child to become masters in the skill. I subsequently move on to immersing children in problem solving activities, where they have to apply the skill. To conclude your child's learning journey, I will then encourage your child to verbalise the problem, discuss their answers and use logic to evaluate their thinking. These three steps will provide your child with the perfect strategies to solve a range of questions they may come across at school.
Your children will also encounter a mental arithmetic test during their time in school. These tests assess your child's ability to answer questions mentally, quickly and accurately, with the aid of formal written strategies. Once again, this is about practise and fluency. I will show children the steps they will need to follow in order to answer these questions so that they will become faster and more confident mental mathematicians.