Esmé was introduced to Math-A-Minute at school this week. **Each day she has two minutes to finish 15 problems correctly. If she succeeds, the next day’s problems are a little harder**…

*She’s a math constructivist, not a lover of repetitious calculations. And she’s completely time-challenged.* This should be fun, you think? She does know her basic addition facts well, so we’ll see how it goes.

**First day went fine. On to the next level.**

She brought her practice sheet home. First time through, she completed all 15 problems with 10 seconds to spare. On her second practice run, she only got through 13.

I noticed she had spent longer than expected on 9+4. Anything with 9 is usually a piece of cake. So I asked her about it.

“I added 2 to the 9 to make 11. Then I had to take the 2 from the 4, which made 2. So then I had to add 2 to 11,” she explained.

Huh? If it weren’t for the glint in her eye, I would’ve thought we failed somewhere in our explanation of adding to 10s. *Little Miss Constructivist is just taking her time messing around with numbers, it seems.*

I let it go.

**On her second day at school, she only got 9 problems done.** I had her do another practice run at home afterwards. 8 problems. She’s spending too much time on problems like 2+2 and 3+0.

**From 15 completed problems with time to spare, to 13, to 9, to 8. Hogwash.**

So I find worksheets online at the same level and printed a bunch of them off. Little Miss IS going to keep doing this until she gets 15 problems done in two minutes.

She takes me a bit more seriously. 13 on the next run, 13 on the next run, and finally, she gets 19 done before the 2-minute timer buzzes. We quit for the day.

**The next day at school, she gets 10 problems done.** She’s pleased – it’s better than 9.

I’m not pleased.

*She tells me, “I need to do it in an empty room with black walls. Then I can do it faster.”*

Coincidentally, IMACS comes out with an article, “Mathematical Talent and the Timed Arithmetic Test” on that very day. I smile and relax. **Her timed score is not a reflection of her innate ability.** I know that already – it’s just nice to have some reinforcement.

With a little online research, I realize that timed math facts tests have gotten a bad rap in recent years. *They don’t necessarily measure math ability. They even create a hatred for math or false feelings of inadequacy for those who don’t do well.*

And yet…

**There are so many benefits to being able to do calculations quickly.** Not to mention, it’s good that Miss Esmé is being challenged mathematically – even if only by time – in school. I like Hoagies’ perspective on it: “Why Memorize Math Facts?”

*So I sit back. And watch. And wait. Yes, this should be fun…*

## 1 comments:

I am a huge fan of letting a kid take their time with math problems. Some kids need a little more time to get to the answer than others. I hate these time tests because I was a kid who was really intelligent but it took me longer to finish problems. Timing tests makes kids rush and make mistakes.

http://online-phd-uk.co.uk/

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