How much time do you spend in conversation with your kiddos during school?
Do they sit at a list of assignments, plow through each activity, sign themselves off, glad to be done with school for the day? Is your home a worksheet driven home? Our learning is a verbal learning. We listen to each other. We talk out our work. We bounce ideas. Sometimes chase bunny trails. Learning is rich with conversation. I think this came about with the Learning Differences the boys have. I used to worry that they were not able to dig deep into the text by themselves. But now, entering the Middle School / High School stage more fully, their reading has matured, AND they have massive logic skills.
All of those years of asking and answering Why has paid off.
I was reminded yesterday of how much I love learning through talking, through manipulatives, through play, and through asking open questions that gives the freedom to arrive at the same answer in many different ways.
We have visitors at Petra School – I’ve been having a hard time figuring out how to best help them in their math journeys. Each child is brilliant, so how to challenge them? They’ve been Public School taught up til spring a year ago. Hard wired to find the answer quickly, and move on. To be Done. Yesterday, I pulled out the larger set of Cuisenaire Rods and played with some base ten questions. We started with the thousands block, and stacked the hundreds up to match them the same, then moved downward in the Hundreds, making Hundreds block.
Use the Rods to make a Hundred, have the majority of the Rods be 10, then 9, and down to 5.
From what I’ve learned with First Lego League, I asked the question, gave them the challenge, and then sat back, with my coffee, and watched. Listened. Asked more questions to help them process. Gave them the tools so that they wouldn’t get frustrated. And then let them work. One child here is 8 and one is 10. It was interesting to hear their words as they created the patterns to make up 100. Creative over structure. Color Patterns. Puzzles. Seeing patterns in sets of 1’s instead of addition sets.
Once the Lego Lover found the rods that connect – he went to find the “10’s” . We were on the 7’s at the time. He figured out that the 7 rod and the 3 rod connect to fill out the line. See the joy of discovery on his face? That’s why I love my day. Then, Lil Sis saw what brother was doing and caught on lickedy split. However, she arranged them differently. She saw that she could fill out the hundreds with 7’s and 3’s, but this is how she did it: Compared to Brother’s.
Seriously helps me to see that my logical forward, pattern brain and her creative, pink, joyful arrangement, joy in the pattern of pretty brain are on separate pathways.
If you have an older child, and you’d like to spend the 6th or 7th grade in conversation about the math that they have learned, before moving on to straight Algebra and High School level classes, may I suggest Mathematical Reasoning? Timberdoodle carries it. It says it is for grades 4-8. It worked well for us as a wrap up year to all of the elementary math skills. It is meant to be a verbal math. The actual figuring in the book is very simple – but the point of the book is Reasoning. Thinking through the why of it, looking at different ways to reach a solution. It took Nate, now 14, less than a year to finish the entire workbook.
My Pink Finger-nailed Lil Sis working on her 5’s. Even though there are about 40 five rods, she choose 5 plus 1 plus 4. Cause it was prettier. See the pattern? She changed it to Pink/White/Pink/White for the 4’s and all yellow for the 5’s. The old me would have told her it would save her a lot of time to just use all fives. The experienced me, joys in her journey of discovery, and thrilled at learning along side of them. Anticipation of learning something new, right along side of them, seeing things from their eyes. I can’t get that in a worksheet.
I love this approach to math! I think it’s what we need… as my kids get older (5th & 7th, but both about a 6th-grade-ish math level) I’m finding it more difficult to find a good math method. I very much dislike giving them a worksheet to complete each day (even though they share one, and do only a portion of the problems given) but feel a little pressure to perform, since I have a family full of educators (not the homeschooling kind.) Math has become tedious. I’m looking forward to freeing up some funds and trying Mathematical Reasoning out!