The world and universe is an extremely beautiful place, and the more we understand it, the more beautiful does it appear.
'It is magic until you understand it, and it is mathematics thereafter.'
Counting, calculating, measuring, interpreting and analysing are all part of the daily Mathematics lesson. This year we are part of a Maths hub exploring how we might apply some of the methods used by teachers in Shanghai and Singapore.
Lessons involve mastering a new concept by first practicing, then applying it to a problem or new situation. Children who have mastered a concept then have opportunities to learn in greater depth rather than jumping to work for the next year group. This enables them to develop deep mathematical understanding. In their independent work children choose the level of challenge: mild, spicy or extra hot!
To master concepts children need 'basic facts' at their finger tips. In Reception they should leave with a good understanding of numbers to 20. Knowing number bonds to 10 are vital for calculating with numbers of more than one digit and by the end of year 4 they are expected to have fast, fluent recall of their times tables and division facts. There is advice in our curriculum document on supporting your child at home.
The jaw drops, the eyes widen, the mind opens.
Science in school has 4 strands:
- Investigating and Experimenting
- Living Things - biology
- Materials - chemistry
- Physical Processes - physics
As a core subject Science is taught both through thematic topics and some discrete units. Children have at least one weekly Science lesson. You can find out more in our Curriculum document on the homepage. Children are assessed through recorded, oral and practical work. Children usually work in small groups for Science, often mixed ability (they will call these fab 4s). They learn to observe, explain, interpret results, plan and carry out investigations. While children think in much the same manner as adults, they do not have the wide experience of adults to inform their thinking. Children therefore can be taught to ‘parrot’ scientific knowledge and facts without understanding. They may recite fluently how the Earth is a sphere spinning on its axis, while in their hearts knowing full well that it is flat! (as this is what their experience and current level of understanding tells them). Therefore, alongside Scientific knowledge and facts to help them develop concepts and understanding, we also teach through encouraging meticulous observation. Youngest children may observe and communicate what they saw, heard, smelled or felt through drawing or writing.
Sometimes it can be unnecessary and unhelpful for adults to explain scientifically everything the child has noticed; often to notice and to note it is enough. As children get older and their experience has broadened, they will be ready to bring their own explanations to their observations and be taught scientific concepts more formally. In this was we teach the children not only Science, but also to think and reason like Scientists.
We are just an advanced breed of monkeys on a minor planet of a very average star. But we can understand the Universe. That makes us something very special.
Parents and carers can help their child at home by having discussions about and encouraging children to notice things that may appear commonplace. The changing seasons, apparent motion of the sun across the sky, how animals are adapted for their habitat and lifestyle, how their wellies keeps their feet dry and how things float and sink in the bath may seem obvious to adults but to children the world is a far newer and more mysterious place. Taking time to notice and discuss will take away some of the mystery while retaining that awe and wonder which we all need to appreciate and care for our home planet.