Practice makes perfect, but how you practice makes all the difference. I’ve been hearing a good deal lately about the concept of “deliberate practice” in career fields as diverse as professional sports,  sushi preparation, and computer programming, and I see a clear connection to academics. How can we best use deliberate practice to help students achieve their goals, whether it’s a certain SAT score, keyboarding competency for the PARCC exams, or faster reading speed?

Deliberate practice can be defined as a highly structured activity that you engage in with the specific goal of improving performance. It’s also not simply drill and kill hours; ideally, it includes receiving expert feedback in order to tweak performance to reach the goal.

Leadership consultant Aubrey Daniels gives the following example:

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Consider the activity of two basketball players practicing free throws for one hour. Player A shoots 200 practice shots, Player B shoots 50. The Player B retrieves his own shots, dribbles leisurely and takes several breaks to talk to friends. Player A has a colleague who retrieves the ball after each attempt. The colleague keeps a record of shots made. If the shot is missed the colleague records whether the miss was short, long, left or right and the shooter reviews the results after every 10 minutes of practice. To characterize their hour of practice as equal would hardly be accurate.

An ACT student we worked with this year serves as another excellent example. This student had a firm grasp of the necessary grammar skills, but kept scoring 29 in English no matter how hard she tried. She needed to establish a new routine that would allow her to break through her personal barrier. Using deliberate practice, she took repeated tests under actual conditions over the course of several weeks with the goal of scoring 30. After each one, she debriefed with a tutor and made small changes.  End result: 33.

At Chyten, we strive to give students the opportunity to be Player A because we know that test scores don’t have to do with “innate ability,” but with the quality of prep and practice received. Contact us and we’ll put a Deliberate Practice package together that meets your child’s summer needs!  973 564 5220.

Here are a few ideas:

ACT/SAT for Rising Seniors who have done through test prep and want to maximize scores on the September and October test dates.

Grades 3 – 8:  PARCC Foundations: keyboarding and software basics.

Math, English, Writing and Reading, for all ages!