The road (or roller-coaster) to success

Michael Jordan I can accept failure

Diaz started working with us at Back to Basics Tuition in October 2014. As if being 15 isn’t hard enough already, Diaz was starting to suffer at school. His grades had dropped, he wasn’t speaking up in class, and overall, he was really struggling with his Math. Grade 9 is a year of consolidating previous Math learning, and often, applying it in new ways. It’s an important year; it is really the final stage before hitting the serious senior years. And for Diaz, it was looking like his choices were going to be limited. Diaz is a talented basketball player and improving his grades was vital as he was looking ahead to a possible basketball scholarship to the States!

When I first assessed Diaz, it became clear that he really did not have a solid foundation in Math. He had massive gaps in understanding and it was no surprise that Grade 9 was difficult. It was going to be a challenging road ahead for him, but a challenge he was up to. We worked with Diaz on a foundation Math course where we literally went back to basics. Starting at a Grade 4 level in certain Math strands, we built up through the grades the strands and knowledge he needed to succeed. We worked over the next 14 months, covering 4 ½ years worth of structured Math. From here we focused on working with him on understanding his classroom level Math, and learning to apply that understanding.

Michael Jordan some people want it to happen

Diaz has learnt that learning is really a rollercoaster, both intellectually and emotionally.  There has been the occasional session where we have not  focused on completing Math work, but have needed to focus on helping him understand himself and to remind himself of why  he is putting in all this extra effort, and additionally why he is worthy of us putting in this extra effort. Finding the internal desire to keep this going when his friends are doing ‘fun’ things is something that has been a joint effort between Diaz, his parents and us. But Diaz has always been worth the effort. There is something very special about him and even when the road got tough, there was no way we were going to give up, give in, or turn away.

Is it worth it? Absolutely. When I get feedback like this, I find my eyes getting a little… ‘leaky’.

Diaz exam

“I can’t thank you enough. So overly privileged to have been able to come to you and like Diaz said to me – Mum, I’ll never forget what Kate, Dave and Mitch have done for me and continue to do for me. I tell him all the time to be humble and never forget the people whom have helped him along the way, and he never will!”

Diaz is pretty much a part of our family now. And man, are we proud of him! Is it over? No way! We will continue to push him, challenge him, and show how proud we are of him. And while we see him maturing into a wonderful young man, and when he is on that world stage, we’ll be able to say, “We knew him when he was a just boy, stumbling in the classroom. Look at him now!”

These words from Ben Simmons are echoed by ‘our’ Diaz:

Ben Simmons

School Readiness Discussion

Part 2

School Readiness = cognitive development + social skills + emotional skills + physical skills

SOCIAL SKILLS are crucial if a child is to make a successful start to school. Academic learning cannot take place if a child cannot socialise with their peers or participate in collaborative activities in a classroom. Social skills need to be explicitly taught to children.

NUMERACY: being able to rote count is not an early predictor of mathematics success. Too often parents are lead to believe that their child’s ability to count in an indicator of their mathematical ability, when in fact, it is more of an indication of a child’s working memorry. The ability to rote count requires the same cognitive skills involved in reciting a nursery rhyme.
(Note from Kate: I’m not suggesting not to teach your child to rote count, Im suggesting that this does not mean they will be a master mathematician)
Current research suggests a child’s ability to recognise patterns and structure is more of a predictive of their subsequent mathematical development in the early years. Children need to be able to copy, continue and create simple patterns with concrete materials such as blocks, handprints, shapes, leaves, stickers, coloured lids, before introducing counting patterns.
Incidental learning or finding the teachable moment in everyday life will help children build a strong foundation which will better prepare them for school and improved mathematics function. Cooking developes measurement skills, setting the table allows opportunities to see patterns and discuss the number of various objects, sort the laundry according to darks and lights, match socks, unpack groceries, plant seeds (counting), cut food into portions….there are so many everyday experiences that will set them up to be better mathematicians…but remember to TALK about them whilst you are playing, as giving them the language is just as important!

What activities do you do at home which encourages numeracy?

comment from Lyn:  At the moment Miss S has a collection of coins totaling about $7. She brings them to me at least once a day and it’s a perfect ‘teachable moment’ right there with her interest level at its peak. We run through the name of each coin and different ways of combining coins to make the same total. We practice skip counting in 5s and 10s and we discuss the concept that the coins have values (she is still grasping the idea that eg 14 coins does not equal $14, and that 100 c equals $1. We revisit this concept each day)