Practice makes perfect! Ask any sports person. Practice re-enforces concepts, decreases reaction time and improves confidence. The feeling of “I have done this before” is a powerful one.
The tenet applies as much to basic math as it does to sports. So the solution is easy – get kids to practice their basic math until they are perfect! Easier said than done 🙂 In sports, kids have role models to emulate. They want to be like somebody. This provides the motivation. However, there are no rock stars in math. Practice is boring! So, how to get kids to practice math? How to give them the motivation?
Practice needs to be made fun. It needs to be made into a challenge that the kids will enjoy achieving. Being in the business of creating practice tools for math, we have incorporated the current thoughts into our product designs.
- Level appropriate questions
- Interesting and engaging packaging – bright, colorful, moving parts
- Gamification – badges, medals, trophies and the ilk
- Social Competition – on achievements with other kids
- Extra challenge – adding elements such as timing or logical reasoning
- Minimum distractions – limited animations and no advertising
- Measurement – ability to track the progress of the child
However, our thoughts go beyond this.
Storification, as a concept, is a powerful tool that is not only useful to explain concepts, but extremely useful as a pointer during practice and coaching. Enhancing the use of this tool in basic math practice will not only improve motivation to use the tools, but also increase the effectiveness of learning.
Another feature of motivated practice is challenging oneself. How many times have we seen kids aim to hit a ball just beyond their current reach? Incorporating this kind of ability within the tools as well as using this technique during coaching will greatly enhance the experience of the learning journey.
We believe that practice, which takes place outside of the classroom, should involve a guide/coach to navigate the child through the journey. The tool does the heavy lifting, but the coach has the control. A partnership between the coach and the toolmaker can help create tools that can be adapted to provide significantly better results than are achieved today. We have just started on our journey and look forward to working with the coaches (be it teacher or parent) to realize our dream.
We would love to know what you think. Given our background, this exercise has been completely free of any academic inputs 🙂 Would love to get some thoughts from that perspective…
For those interested, our first application (Android) is available at https://play.google.com/store/apps/details?id=com.humpty.mathontrack.grid