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Stage 3: measurement, shape, time, and money

Measurement is now taught by ‘hands-on’ experience. Objects are measured for length, and later for volume and weight.

Concepts such as volume, capacity, shapes, angles, time, and money are all introduced by giving children as much practical experience as possible.

Calculators and computers

A child who has difficulty with arithmetic calculations may be greatly helped by a calculator. These can now be so small and light that they are unobtrusive. The decision to introduce a calculator should be made in consultation with the teacher. A child who is being kept back by difficulties with arithmetical operations may benefit from a calculator. However, if the calculator is introduced prematurely, the child may lose the opportunity to become better at performing calculations quickly in his head.

There are a number of programmes for teaching or practising arithmetic on a computer, as well as pre-programmed computer toys for practising arithmetic. Free Internet games to improve mathematical skills are available at www. The portable electronic game, Math Slam, manufactured by Educational Insights, is well designed and entertaining.

When using a computer, there is always the danger that, instead of doing the arithmetic programme, the child will play other computer games, so supervision is needed. Sometimes the other games can be used as a reward for time spent practising arithmetic.

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