Holiday Homework?


What maths should my child do during the summer holidays?

Around this time of year, I’m asked this question. The answer changes by individual and by how they feel from day to day, but in most cases there’s no great need for structured maths learning to continue through holidays. “A holiday is as good as a holiday!” Isn’t that the saying? Holidays allow students to de-stress and learn those life skills not acquired in classrooms. Rather than structured maths, holidays can be great times to help your child fall in love with reading, or bolster their automatic recall of, say, timetables with songs and games.

In general:

  • If they enjoy it, of course! More power to them!
    • Why not set younger children up with a picnic under a tree to enjoy the beautiful weather while they continue using their Signpost Maths diagnostic test and content pages just as they do at ELC? (No help with diags, but on some practice pages they may need your input, or that of an older sibling.)
    • Older children can find lots of interesting maths content on the internet.
      • For school content, see Khan Academy. Videos, explanations and structured practice not just for maths, but sciences, programming, history and much more.
      • To branch away from the ‘same old’ school maths content, we love these YouTube channels:
  • If they will resent it because there are other things they’d rather be doing, it’s better not to foster negativity towards maths by forcing the issue. Even if a student is currently behind, because of the high level of repetition in the curriculum, in most cases the concepts before Year 10 can be caught up quickly enough during term time, with positive psychological support and instruction. Let them forget their maths anxiety and leave it to us when they return refreshed next term.
  • If they are bored, suggest it… you never know, they might be craving some mental stimulation.

The criticality of staying abreast of school maths increases as students progress through year levels:

  • Primary Maths – The content itself is mostly no big deal. You can make useful progress and keep children’s mathematical thinking engaged by casually including them in the maths of everyday life: from counting and grouping objects, to telling and calculating time and dates, measurements, recipes, saving and spending money – whatever is level-appropriate.
    • How many days until Christmas?
    • How long until [favourite TV show] starts?
    • How many of these chocolates should we each get?
    • Help me double this recipe.
  • Secondary Maths – If students are in behind their peers, and motivated to do something about it, then they could take it upon themselves to build their skills before they encounter next year’s new content. The Kahn Academy website and app can be great for guiding students through content when they are without teacher supervision. If they sign up, a “Mission Warm-Up” test will diagnose which areas they need help with and lead them to the explanation videos and practice questions.
  • QCE Maths – Some Year 10s will start their “Year 11” content (that is QCE Unit 1) in Term 4 of Year 10. Likewise, some Year 11s will start their “Year 12” content (Unit 3). So, many student’s unit planners from school will tell them exactly what is coming up next term, and where to find it in their textbooks. Learning ahead now is not wasted, even if students feel they will “forget” it by next term; by that logic, they will forget their Term 1, 2 and 3 learning before their Term 4 exams.  That kind of thinking (learning for the short term) just won’t cut it now. From 2020, Qld Year 12 external exams cover ALL content from the previous 9-15 months. Students need to develop long-term understanding and memory. The more often they cover each topic, the more easily it is recalled each time, until it becomes hard to forget. Students will need to cover every topic as many times as possible before their end-of-year exams in October/November of Year 12.In the absence of a unit plan from school, QCAA subject syllabuses give a pretty clear indication of what students will need to cover. Here are the Maths Methods and General Maths ones, for example.

If ELC students want our help deciding what to do over the break, they can ask us.

Most importantly, whatever academics they do in holiday time needs to be stress free.

Call us if you need to discuss your child’s approach to school and study: 5478 1172

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About the Author: Dan Blore
Dan Blore manages and teaches at Extended Learning Centres. He has spent 20 years in education, having studied secondary education at University of the Sunshine Coast. He has taught in Australia and Germany and studied at university in Italy. He most enjoys teaching and studying mathematics and languages, both of which he focused on at university.

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