A small portion of our children’s learning routine is all about speed. For just four minutes a day, we are attempting to gauge our kids’ ability to think on their feet and to move their minds quickly.
We started this practice a few years back when our oldest began first grade. (Okay, several years back at this point.) We didn’t purchase all of the materials aBeka had to offer, but we did make sure to include this in our purchase of language arts and arithmetic. I liked the notion of being able to see how quickly she could think on her feet and how much she was able to mentally access on a moment’s notice. The “speed drills” came in two forms, arithmetic and reading comprehension.
The arithmetic speed drills are basic; addition, subtraction, division, multiplication, simple fractions, and measurement conversions. Reading comprehension is fairly simple as well; you read a section of text and answer questions based on your reading, all within a given time frame.
While it took my girl a few days to catch on to the process and to understand she was being timed, she picked up fairly soon and off she went. Since that first year, she has never missed a time goal; not once. All of our other kiddos followed suit; each adjusting to the routine and quickly gaining proficiency.
Our verdict: these are wonderful! I thought our kids (especially my boy, who tends to let his mind wander) would balk at these attempts to increase their mental agility; fussing over the time limits or the difficulty of the task. Instead, I was pleased to learn they accepted our challenge and couldn’t wait to best their own time.
Personally, I find these extremely helpful. Just a quick, four-minute, timed quiz each day helps me to see how well their minds are working and if they are grasping concepts.
I know this might not work for everyone. Some children crumble at the thought of rushing through assignments. Time limits can be stressful and not everyone performs well under pressure. However, if at all possible, I highly recommend giving this a go; mental agility is just as important as physical.
Now that our oldest is in junior high, she no longer has reading comprehension drills; it seems she is expected to have mastered that at this point (which she has). She was quite bummed when I told her this would not be part of our routine this year; she enjoyed them. She does still have arithmetic drills though, only fewer days a week than before; now she is down to two days a week and breezes through them both.
Using these drills, our kids are adding tons of wrinkles to their little brains and zipping through their day, just like this little mouse. (Isn’t he cute?)