Research studies show that students need to practice a skill 24 times to reach 80% competency. Think about learning to tie your shoe, hit a golf ball or a backhand in tennis, play the piano, paint, or play video games. Whatever we are learning, our first attempt is just a start. It takes a lot of practice to get good at anything.
I believe that children should have free play whether it’s digging in the dirt, fishing at the creek if you’re lucky enough to have a creek, or playing ball. Even so we can be aware of the value of practice. It comes naturally with counting. We teach our children to count and then we count everything: the stairs, pennies, stars in the sky, apples, and fingers and toes. They learn to read, then we read with them and to them at every opportunity.
Many children have their first struggles in school with mathematics or reading. If this happens for your child just remember that they still need the same level of practice they did learning to tie their shoe. Most don’t get it. How can you help with learning problems? Remember this study. Talk to them about how much they practice the things they like and how good they are at them.
It takes more than 10 minutes on homework to strengthen a skill. Helping your child learn is not about constantly instructing them. It is about giving them the tools to be independent learners. One of these age old tools, now supported by research, is just plain old fashioned practice.