Ask the Education Team (December 2020)

With Dr Junaid Mubeen, Director of Education at Whizz, mathematician turned educator and former Countdown winner.

Q. The holidays are coming up, and I’m trying to decide if I should make my nine-year-old child do math. I feel we all need a break from school but I also worry they might fall behind. What should I do? (Sue, Bath)

A. We’re all counting down the days to the festive period. It’s been a stressful year like no other, especially for parents. It is totally understandable that you want a break – don’t feel at all guilty about that. Make time for films, food, games and whatever else your family enjoys doing this time of year. You have earned it.

I view learning as a year-round activity. Just as I would advise children to read every week of the year (and every day!), it’s also important to engrain math as a habit. Whenever we switch off from learning, even for a couple of weeks, we forget the knowledge and skills we have worked so hard to gain. It’s a bit like exercise – you can take a couple of weeks off, but it will set back your fitness and you’ll have to work much harder later on.

But come on, it’s the festive period. So let me also say that any learning your child engages with should be FUN. That actually sounds like a good rule for all times of the year, doesn’t it? So my advice is to schedule in a modest amount of time for learning activities that your child will enjoy.

We know that an hour a week of tutoring on Math-Whizz leads to accelerated learning. It’s not a huge time commitment and just needs to be scheduled around your other festive activities. Math-Whizz is flexible so you can login whenever is convenient for you and your child. And Math-Whizz has fun built into its design. It never feels like a chore for students and is quite apart from the dreary worksheets they might sometimes have to labour through.

We’ve also designed a festive activity pack, with lots of cool activities for your child to try at home. It’s just another way to keep your child’s learning progressing in a fun way, without demanding too much time.

Finally, if your school has set your child homework and you think it will interfere with your festive plans, you should raise your concerns with your child’s teacher. I’m sure they will be sympathetic, this year of all years.

Best wishes to your family for the holiday season!

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