How much time does it take?

‘But there’s a curriculum to cover!’ is a familiar cry and of course it is true that the National Curriculum in England does make certain statutory demands which are elaborated in curriculum guidance documents and strategies. If the time to ‘cover’ the material we have to cover already seems tight, how can we fit in these extra thinking activities? The answer, although this may not seem believable, is that the quart does in fact go into the pint pot.

There are two complementary reasons why there is time for thinking activities. One is that as your pupils become better thinkers, they will process all information more efficiently and they will learn the learning part of the curriculum more efficiently. And the other is that, in the design of all of the materials from Year 2 onwards, specific attention has been paid to the National Curriculum and the Strategies. Each of the programmes gives, in its introduction, clear guidance to the links between the thinking programme and the National Curriculum. This is not to say that the Let’s Think! materials follow the curriculum, but that the general types of thinking developed are just those required by the content curriculum.

The early Let’s Think! activities rarely need longer than 20 minutes in Reception and about 30 minutes in Year 1. Using each activity of each programme regularly, in the way described in the published materials and in this handbook, provides children with sufficient opportunity to increase their thinking ability substantially. In the later science-specific programmes, where the activities are conducted with the whole class at the same time, about 50 to 60 minutes has proved to be successful. In mathematics, we suggest that one-tenth of the total time available for maths in school be devoted to Let’s Think through Maths! or PCAME. This amount of time is appropriate to devote to thinking in a balanced children’s mathematical diet, leaving the other nine-tenths to exposition, practice and free investigation, all carried out at children’s own ‘comfort level’ of thinking.

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Lets Think Handbook Copyright © by Alex Black. All Rights Reserved.

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