Today my daughter had an issue carrying five plates from the kitchen onto the dining table

There were five heavy plates in the kitchen and I asked my daughter to carry them onto the dining table. She said they were too heavy so I said to carry half then come back and carry the rest.

“But Daddy, you can’t divide five in half”.

Of course she was right. She couldn’t carry two and a half plates and then come back for the other two and a half.

Luckily she knew what I meant and after finding it really funny, then thinking about it a little longer, I decided I need a few more Ninja Master lessons in the practical application of mathematics in the real world and how language can sometimes be ambiguous, or at least reliant on the other person to “get what you mean” in exactly the same way that computers can’t.

The Ninja Master has worked out a way to motivate three young ninja’s at home during lockdown – in a word it is “teamwork”. If you need another word, that might be interdependence.

All three little ninjas have to complete all their daily studies, work and practice their ninja music (piano, violin & flute) as well as having some kind of ninja exercise to help oxygenate their lungs, hearts and minds.

Absolutely no screen time is allowed before or after dinner for any of the little ninja’s unless all three have completed their daily tasks (with the exception of laptop time for study work).

This motivates and encourages them to study not only for themselves but for the greater good of the larger ninja family.

We are interdependent. We are selfless. We are trying…

Repetition with variation is very important to help a child secure numeracy in Primary School, here’s why…

Fluency & Numeracy

If you learn how to say “Hello, my name in the Ninja Master” in a foreign language and you say it once, that’s great. If a month later you need to say it, you would probably have forgotten it.

Repeating it with variation on a regular basis helps to not only understand what you’re saying, you will also perfect the accent and work out your own variations – for example “I am the Ninja Master, how are you?”

It’s the same with maths. Repeating how to add, subtract, multiply and divide fractions 300 times gives your child improves their fluency.

Confidence in Maths

The more a child practices how to work out perimeters and areas of irregular shapes the better they will become at is. When opening an exam paper and seeing a few questions about perimeter and area they will immediately feel confident about solving those questions.

Sense Checking their Own Answers in Maths

Practicing percentages for example over and over instills a sense of what is the correct answer. If a child knows how to work out 45% of 700 but has no sense of what the answer should be, they may get the answer wrong and not realise it.

Through repetition a child will sense that 45% of a number is just less than half, so if they’ve worked out that 45% of 700 is 610, they’ll immediately sense this is incorrect because half of 700 is 350. This enables a child to sense and fix their own mistakes.

Not having to waste time in Exams

During an exam a question may require a child works out a long division, e.g. 876 divided by 9. This may only be one step in a six-step question. The child should not spend lots of time trying to remember and work out how to do a long division. It should be automatic.

This is not about learning by rote, it is about making the most essential and necessary maths functions second nature.

I can do this all day…

The Ninja Master could talk about this for hours. If you’re interested in starting a discussion please contact me.

A Ninja Maths Master should be able to make quick estimates:

Q1: How many people can fit onto a double decker bus?

A1: Between 65 & 75 is a good answer

Q2: How many grains of uncooked rice in a cup?

A2: Between 5,000 and 10,000 is a good answer

If a child gets an estimate way off target they should explain how they arrived at their estimation. A guess is insufficient, it must be an estimate arrived at using thought and sometimes a pen & paper.

They start at about £140 which isn’t bad considering the software is mostly free – including Word processing, Spreadsheets and Presentation (all online rather than installing anything) to enable a child to do their homework up to and into Secondary School.

The ones I bought (Acer Chromebook 11 CB3-132) are no longer available but they easily connected to the internet and printer etc.

I bought two over a year ago and they’re still going strong.

If I needed a laptop to take with me when travelling I’d buy another Chromebook and leave my beloved MacAir at home.

Getting the child to re-write what you’ve just written so they can explain it to you

Leaving extra Ninja Maths homework up on the board

Just-before-bedtime explanations of things like the planets, fractions, a thunderstorm and the difference in speed between light and sound (so you know when it’s time to duck)

Drawing up “Happy Birthday” and adding flowers or robots