Evolving a Balance between English and Maths Studies

Australian primary curriculum revolves around Literacy and Numeracy as two streams. As a general trend, parents give more importance to Mathematics in comparison to English. They start giving more weightage to improvement in Mathematics without realising how vital English is in academics and beyond.

The reason is that most parents develop the flawed notion that Australia being an English speaking country, children would automatically be good at English.

Parents are quite content with the verbal communication, some simplistic worksheets and negligible homework provided at school. This feeling is more prevalent amongst the migrant population who are quite in awe with the verbal communication in a country with English as the first language.

Once parents feel that the English needs of their children are taken care of, they focus their attention to Mathematics.

Some highly reputed Mathematics development programs become the hot spots for such parents where they are led to believe about the efficacy of such programs in mental development.

Having the fullest regard to these premier institutes, despite all their good intentions, the learning built around the mathematical proficiency model becomes skewed.

The result is the child, in many cases, may be able to demonstrate preliminary Mathematical competence revolving around mental Maths but in English the child has below par understanding.

When it comes to concepts like Verbal Reasoning, Reading Comprehension and Advanced writing, the child is seriously found wanting.

This creates a grave imbalance between  Mathematical and English capabilities.

Symptoms of Imbalanced Learning in Children

  • The child wants to study Mathematics all the time.
  • The child does not show much interest in English.
  • The English homework is not complete or is done very casually with many basic errors.
  • The English writing lacks structure, grammar and other facets of acceptable academic writing.
  • Parents tend to consider proficiency in Mathematics as the benchmark of academic success.

Needless to say, such children struggle at the lower end of the ‘English Writing Competence Pyramid’

ven their verbal communication skills are very rudimentary centring around slang and basic words.

Many a time, when parents realise the predicament in relation to English, it is too late.

Just like so many other traits, sound English requires sound strategic measures from the very beginning. As the child grows in age, the child acquires many do nots of academic English which are quite challenging to eradicate later.

The importance of English as a subject can not be negated.

All competitive exams – SEAL, Scholarship, Selective Entry have the following three English components

  • 1 Verbal Reasoning
  • 2 Reading Comprehension
  • 3 Writing-Persuasive or Creative

English is also a compulsory subject in VCE and getting a good University place depends on the ATAR score in VCE.

Leaving academics apart, sound proficiency in English writing is a major confidence builder as part of effective communication -both verbal and written.

Parents who really want their children to excel in studies and eventually in life, need to take an equal, if not more, interest in English as compared to Mathematics. They need to understand the importance of English and guide their children in the right direction.

Mathematics and English should go hand in hand as far as their children’s education is concerned.

Further, parents need to understand that due to the skewed outlook favouring Maths, that their children have developed over time, children have a definite mental inertia to learn English. They will resist any attempts to work on their English development.

This is a natural response of an ossified mindset and needs understanding, encouragement and sustained efforts on part of parents and teachers.

The main challenge is the diagnosis of the issue at the right age!


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