We are now in lock-down, so while homeschooling my son I get to se exactly what he does for math. He has been getting a huge amount of repetitive practicing of really simple math, despite being quite good at math. My question is, given his skill level and his current enjoyment of math is there any point to this endless repetition, or should I go head to head with the teacher about it? Is there such a thing as the recommended number of repetitions?
By really huge amount I mean he will have to do between 100 and 140 additions of numbers under 10, mostly +1 and +2 additions, in one take, at least once a week. This takes 10 minutes without any breaks.
He has been doing additions of numbers under 10 for at least 1.5 year now almost without errors, and additions of numbers up to 100 for about a year. He does this for fun, he likes it when we randomly ask him to sum two numbers. Last summer (6 months ago) he liked showing off adding up much larger numbers, eg 367 + 58. This is outside of school. I think the started with additions in school about 1.5 years ago.
In addition to the above repetitive task his math tasks consists of more or less useful tasks. Each day of the week he does 1 or 2 tasks, the other tasks can be any of the following:
- practice telling the time from a clock, or setting a clock to some time
- (learning to do) multiplication
- adding and subtracting from 10-20
- adding and subtracting numbers < 100
- proportionality (one ice-cream costs 2 euros, how much are 3 ice-creams)
- estimating on an unmarked axis (eg placing 45 and 75 on a line marked only with 0 and 100)
- various arithmetic 'games'. For example he has to write an addition as a substraction by moving numbers around, but also quite difficult ones where he has to find all the rows and columns that add up to 50 in a 3x3 square of numbers.
I cannot square the level of that last task with doing 100 sums of adding 1 or 2 to a number under 10.
It has been a long time since I was in school, but I don't think we ever had to do more then 50 sums in a row, probably not more then 25. Because we were writing down the answers we were slower, he does his tasks on a computer. Still, he could do less repetitions and do something else with the time saved by typing instead of writing. (Maybe practice writing).
The tasks are 'adaptive' and 'individual', so different children get different tasks, and are decided on by a computer program. Being a software developer myself, I worry that something has gone wrong here. Even if the computer program performs as specified, I worry that all this repetition of tasks my child already mastered will eventually rob him of the fun he has doing math.
When I ask him if he finds these tasks boring, he says he does. But he is also proud to get so many answers in a row correct. My guess is it is psychologically rewarding the same way playing minesweeper is.