Saturday, May 24, 2008

Is this the face of a future math geek?*


About a month or so back our lives got somewhat insane with my husband's work schedule, a change in my routine and getting more involved with my husband's business, and just life in general. Hey, the sun came out and woke us up finally. :) At that time I stopped doing the structured daily math curriculum we use. Right Start Math. Lately the girl was grumbling and fighting me and in the midst of everything else it didn't seem worth it.

Fast forward to recent weeks and some sort of odd observations. Earlier this year we subscribed to the online Art lessons GeeArt16. We all loved it so very much. It was just a very fun program. We completed the lessons together but the kids have gone through them over and over alone since then. There is one lesson titled nature + math = beauty, and my daughter has been obsessed with it. In fact one day I was soaking in the tub and she walked in with a paper where she wrote 5 ÷ 34 = 1.618. I asked her what that was and she told me it was the golden ratio. I asked her if she knew what that meant and she went into the whole fibonacci numbers/sequence jazz. Hey, I read The Da Vinci Code, I could follow. At this point she was just sort of showing me she watched the lesson enough to regurgitate this stuff though. What impressed me was she knew what division was and that wasn't in the lesson and it is something we have just lightly covered here and there.

The next odd thing was we were doing Pokemon Learning League. Yeah, yeah, we are computer people, whatever... Don't worry we see the sunlight. It is a website aimed for 3rd-6th grade students. Some of the stuff is very reachable for younger kids though. And then some, not so much. She wanted to do a math lesson that I felt was a bit too steep for her, but let her do it anyway. Pretty soon we were neck deep into problems like 9-6+(3+4)+2² and 16÷4x2+3. I mean these aren't genius problems, but it is far over where we had been working. We watched the lesson (which was about the proper way to read a math problem in order to solve it correctly), and then I helped her do the problem. It wasn't like she did it herself. I am not claiming that. But she followed me with just as much understanding on the harder concepts presented with these as she had with the easier stuff we had been tackling before. And with much greater enthusiasm.

Then tonight. I was reading Matilda to her before bedtime. A lovely violent book Matilda is, no? Great bedtime stuff. Well the Trunchbull was yelling at some kid to tell her 'if she had seven apples, seven oranges, and seven of something else how much fruit would she have'. My girl immediately said 21. I looked at her shocked and asked how she knew that and she just shrugged and said she counted. But it was practically an immediate answer. So I don't think so. Then, just so I didn't shrug it off she did it again. Trunchbull asked another kid an 8 and 8 and 8 verbal question. And my daughter provided an immediate answer of 24.

My girl has always been scary logical. So math probably makes her all warm, fuzzy and calm inside. It makes sense to her organized brain. I have done my best to make math fun and more like puzzles and a language for my kids than the tedium that I experienced for math but at ages 6 and 4 I haven't gone nuts with it yet. I am really excited about math again and this has caused me to see my daughter in a new way. This is something that belongs to her, not me. It makes me step back and see her as in individual, not just a little me in a daughter suit.

I am not saying she is beyond Rightstart Math. I just think it is time to buy the next couple books as I feel this program has been instrumental in helping her grasp the concepts and language of math. How cool is it when your kids surprise you and their image snaps into focus a bit more? And how cool is it that my child is teaching ME how to love a subject that I pretty much hated for three decades?

* I hesitated to write this post since I didn't want it to come across that I think my kid is some kind of homeschooling genius creature. She's smart and silly and has areas that her mind is especially awake - just like every other kid on the planet. Math is important, but I think people glorify it because of the general belief that it is hard. When really it is just presented in a boring fashion most of the time, so even the kids whose brains spin naturally in that area are turned off to it. This post is more about how our own kids can take us by surprise, moving the mask of childhood aside for a moment to give us a startlingly clear and wonderful image of who they are to themselves. Leaving us, the parents, to smack ourselves in the forehead saying, "Of course this is you. I was sort of caught up for awhile with what I thought was you. But now I see, and you are so darn beautiful."


Katherine said...

Most Inspiring Post I've Read On Any Blog In A Long Time.

Maria said...

Oh, Im in SUCH agreement. It's good to remember WHO our children are...and they are not what we thought. Not what we expected, not what we bargained for..but so much better. And amazing. And surprising.

LOVED your last paragraph. And brag away! Because each child is a genius. Each child is potential for great things and that should be celebrated. Especially by their moms.

Mommylion said...

Wow, thanks Katherine. :)

Maria, yes, I totally agree. 'Every child is potential for great things that should be celebrated'. :)

BlessedUtopia said...

BBBBrag it up momma!! If nothing else this is YOUR blog to brag on! I'm so impressed, and I must say, it sounds like she is over the regular math curriculum you already had. I LOVE your blog and wanna ad it to my link on mine b/c I see myself coming here again and again...can I can I can i?!??! :)

Mommylion said...

Thanks for the nice comments blessedutopia. Feel free to link to me :) Welcome!