For many of us when you see or hear 4+ 5 you can’t stop yourself from thinking 9. You experience an automatic, effortless recall of this information. For children who lack this automatic response to simple calculations it is incredibly difficult for them to develop their understanding in many areas of mathematics. For some this would mean that they don’t perform to their full potential, but for many it means that they are unable to access new mathematics learning and they are at risk of making little progress in their understanding of mathematics beyond the middle years of primary school.
Thanks to a research program at the National Centre for Science, ICT and Mathematics Education for Rural and Regional Australia (at UNE, NSW), we now have a program which helps to address this problem. Staff at Bridgewater Primary School brought this program to the Adelaie Hills region and this year it has been adopted by seventeen more schools in the region.
The program, called QuickSmart, has a proven track record of improving the academic performance of many thousands of students from over 150 schools in the Northern Territory, NSW and Victoria, but Bridgewater P.S is in the first cluster of public schools to adopt the program in South Australia. Research evidence confirms that QuickSmart students maintain the gains from the program years after they have completed the program.
During the 30 week intervention program; pairs of students work with a QuickSmart instructor for 30 minutes three times a week on an individually tailored program. The thirty minute sessions have 6 five minute sections which have been designed to develop both automatic recall and application of numerical calculations.
The program aims to develop new neural pathways so that the child can automatically recall and use answers to simple addition, subtraction, multiplication and division problems. When children first gain this ability they often feel that they are guessing, but it is the role of the QuickSmart intructor to encourage the child to trust their head.
At Bridgewater Primary, we currently have 18 students involved in the program.