Wednesday 22 May 2019

Top maths skills can add up for nine-year-olds

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Stock photo
Katherine Donnelly

Katherine Donnelly

Children who are good at maths at the age of nine settle into second-level education more easily than others, according to new Irish research.

Having good maths skills in third class are identified as a crucial foundation for the shape a pupil's future education journey.

It is one of the key findings in a report based on educational experiences of the same set of children at age nine, and again at 13, using data gathered in the Growing up in Ireland study.

The focus of the 'Off to a Good Start?' study, by Dr Emer Smyth, of the Economic and Social Research Institute (ESRI), was the factors that help or hinder a child when they make the transition from primary to post-primary.

Among its recommendations was a rethink of approaches to maths teaching at primary level to enhance interest and skills.

The research found most young people settle well into second-level, but one-in-five is anxious about making new friends and that girls experience greater transition difficulties.

While it doesn't look beyond the initial adjustment period, previous research has shown that a comfortable transition is key to longer-term educational success.

At second-level, building positive student-teacher relationships was found to be critical in supporting students to feel more confident as learners, said Dr Smyth.

The report highlighted the importance of moving away from negative sanctions "which appear to further alienate young people".

Irish Independent

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