The following was written a year ago.
Amber is now 8.
But it is still as applicable today
as it was a year ago:
“I would rather do math than eat cake!”
– Amber Plath, mathematics aficionado, age 5
Let me tell you the story of Amber, and yes –
I will tell you a foolproof way you too can have a
child that LOVES math so much they can’t get enough of it.
Amber is five years old and in the 3rd grade math book,
doing about 2 weeks worth of math a day.
She can’t get enough of it.
Yes, she understands what she’s doing:
when her third grade brother needs help with his math,
she explains it to him.
When she was 18 months old, she was doing the puzzle of the 50 states,
and knew the names of all the states, where they went,
and she could even distinguish North and South Dakota from each other upside down and flipped over. (Have you looked at those two lately? They’re real similar!) She has always been interested in the higher math her older siblings do. She sometimes has them explain to her about negative and positive numbers or whatever they’re learning about. When she was four I was helping the older children with algebra and trying to help them figure out if negative x = 1, what does x equal? How do you get rid of the negative? I asked the older children, “What would you multiply negative x by to make it positive?” Amber, 4, piped up, “Negative one!” Lucky guess? I don’t know but pretty amazing either way! She does Sudoku for fun.
Our approach to homeschooling is as follows:
Provide a stimulating environment with lots of educational materials: books, instruments, puzzles, music, etc.
Minimize mind-numbing entertainment: movies, video games, gadgets that buzz and whir and light up.
Require a fair amount of work every day.
Let them explore and develop the things that really get them excited.
So did we sit Amber down and force her to do long hours of math? Absolutely not. We have to make her take a break from math and go outside to play and get fresh air and sunshine.
So how can you achieve these same results? Here are two things – if you do both of these, you are guaranteed to have a child that loves math so much they can’t get enough! Ready? Here they are:
1. Provide them the room and freedom and materials to explore what they love most (and make sure they only have wholesome things to choose from).
2. Have enough children that eventually you will come across one that can’t get enough of math!
Ok – so that doesn’t help you with your one child that is struggling with math, does it? BUT – what are the things he/she is passionate about? What are the things he/she can’t get enough of? Develop those areas. Yes, all our children need math: the ones that love it and the ones that don’t. But every child needs at least one area that they are so passionate about that they will rise early, get their work done, and get to that thing that lights their fire. Amber is our only child that has an insatiable appetite for math. But all of our children have an insatiable appetite for something. For one it is building cars in the barn. Another gardening/botany. Another would sew all day. What is it your child wants to do more than anything else? Help them pursue that joy, and their world will never be the same!
For those of you that want to know what math curriculum we use: It is Math-U-See. I have a friend that is an engineer and her husband is an architect. They researched all the different math curricula out there and decided Math-U-See was the best one. That was good enough for me. But no curriculum is a substitute for instilling a love of learning in your children. There is more info on this topic in my book “Intuitive Motherhood” and also look for an upcoming book on homeschooling.