Monday, December 13, 2010

That dreaded four letter word...

MATH What did you think I was going to talk about?

I read an interesting article the other day, presented in Life Learning Magazine about how unschoolers learn math. The article really resonated with me, since I have witnessed, first hand, just how it happens.

When Nico was five, I was on my way to work, but I needed to get the boys some lunch and drop them off with their grandparents first. I was headed to BK, and Nico said he wanted some burger shots. I wanted to get him the kids meal, but he was insisting on the adult meal. I thought that would be too much food for him, but he said "It's only three twos, Mommy."

Hmm, it's only three twos. Immediately I thought multiplication, but he's only five. Surely he can't be ready to start multiplying. Especially since he has had almost no formal math lessons. So I asked him, "How many is three twos?" to which he promptly replied "Six". Maybe it's a fluke? Maybe he only knows from seeing the burger shots before? So I asked another one. "How many is five twos?" A moments thought, and then "Ten". I asked another, and another, and he was able to go as high as five fives is twenty five.

Unlike the mother in the article, I didn't have to ask Nico how he was getting the answer. Although he was trying to murmur under his breath, I could hear him counting out the answers. Much like the boy in the article, Nico too uses a rhythmic pattern to determine the answer. 123, 456, 789 three threes is nine.

I was amazed at how easily he seemed to grasp the concept. Since then, I have had no fears about how or when my boys will pick up math skills. Math really is all around us, and they are learning far faster on their own than I could have ever imagined.

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