Are extra practice sessions helpful?

More practice is helpful as long as it is motivating.

Rachel asks:
When doing Rocket Addition with my daughter: I plan to do 2 three-minute practice sessions during our school day with the one-minute timing after the second one. Then, if she doesn’t pass, should I have her work on those facts again in the evening, perhaps with Dad? Or do we just pick up again the next day?

I’m encouraged to hear that with enough time and practice she will be able to memorize math facts to automaticity. This is good news and motivation for me to keep working with her. Memorizing has always come easily for me, and I’ve tried many different techniques while remaining at a loss as to how to help her. After reading the teacher directions, I can see that I was introducing new facts too quickly, before the others were completely memorized. I love how helpful and directive Rocket Math is! Thanks again.

Dr. Don answers:
As for another session with Dad in the evening, it will only be beneficial if it is motivating and that depends on how you structure it and how she perceives it. It could be punishing or it could be a motivating treat. If she has some control over whether or not to do it, but she is “allowed” if she wants to show Dad how well she can do them (and more importantly he reciprocates by being impressed!) then by all means, “let” her do that. Also, if she doesn’t pass her test after the second session, and she wants to, she could have a special bonus chance to try to pass with Dad, but that would mean practice AND a test with him. Either of those scenarios could make the extra practice session in the evening a motivating treat and that would be good. If she perceives it as no fun and extra work when she should be enjoying time with her father, then don’t do it.

Oh, and in that regard do have her fill in her Rocket Chart and color in the levels as she passes them. That’s definitely something to show Dad when he comes home. And take a look at the Achievement Awards and use them from time to time.

By the way, as someone who has struggled with sport-like skills my whole life, it was a huge revelation to me that I could learn to do things if I was willing to work longer and harder and more consistently at it than anyone else. Knowing that I could develop mastery was the prerequisite to be motivated enough to persevere until I got there. If you can help her persevere until she masters these things you can help her develop the perseverance habit itself–which is way more important than math facts. You’ll need to be impressed with her hard work and mightily impressed by her accomplishments but once she sees for herself that she can achieve difficult things if she perseveres, she has learned a most important life lesson.

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