Living Stones Academy

Educating by atmosphere, discipline, and life

Scaling back

on April 20, 2010

I just found out that they’re teaching Caleb subtraction in his preschool! I understand from the note in his daily journal that this is part of kindergarten transition, but that also concerns me. I am so glad the Lord impressed on me to make this huge step and keep him home. I’m also so glad to be learning all I have been. The right people and the right websites have been coming my way since I made this decision (and also made the decision to talk about it with people; you never know who could have helped if you keep your mouth shut in the name of pride; probably why the Bible talks so poorly of pride, but I digress . . .). And with all I’m learning about the way math should be taught to 5-year-olds, I am so glad to be taking him out of the system.

Yesterday I gave him a test that confirmed all I’ve read. I was giving the kids some sandwich cookies. There were 6 cookies. I placed them all in front of Caleb in a pile and said, “How many kids are at the table?” He proudly said, “Three!” Then I said, “So each kid gets 2 cookies. Take 2 cookies and put them aside for Isaac.” He took one cookie and put it aside, then looked up all happy. I could have said, “Now put one more” and he would have done it. But instead I said, “Isaac gets 2, give him 2.” He looked confused, took the one cookie, and moved it down the napkin an inch. I put the cookie back in the pile and said again that he needed to put 2 cookies (this time I pointed to a certain spot on the napkin, in case the word “aside” was confusing him) there for Isaac. He again only moved one, and did not know what I meant when I said, “No, not one, he needs two.” This should not have been hard for him, but it was because until now numbers have not been quantities. They have been abstract, not concrete. Something else to learn. He can count 2, he can show me 2 on his fingers, he can write 2, and he can recognize the number (and now the word) 2. But he doesn’t understand what 2 IS or MEANS. So teaching him to subtract it and other numbers from each other doesn’t mean a darn thing.

This has also made me rethink the Language Arts we were going to pursue this year. I was going to continue to advance based on where he’ll be at year’s end, but I really see now that this year of kindergarten needs to be about scaling back and down. I am not going to press forward until I know he understands, not just knows, what he’s learning. We will not do bookwork for math concepts and ideas. We will not try to get through all the Explode the Code intro books in one year. We’ll do nature studies, play games, read books and stories, learn how to describe pictures and scenery . . . handle, touch, and learn through experience. I will not burn out my son before he hits junior high. I don’t see the point.

For more information on the ideal way to teach children math, see http://www.ithaca.edu/compass/storyI-III.htm and http://livingmath.net/Home/tabid/250/language/en-US/Default.aspx.

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