Tuesday, July 20, 2010

Complicated Equations

Now, I'm not a homeschooler or an unschooler, or even a Waldorfist or Montessorian (I might be making up some of those words), but I love reading and thinking about all kinds of early childhood and elementary education.  I am crazy for Summerhill, and Reggio Emilia, and I am glad that I can pick and choose from all of these amazing systems for each of my own children.  I thought I was anti-homework until my kindergartener was in love with his, acting as if his teachers were giving him a new coloring book each week.  Go figure, and another great example of how frequently a know-it-all like me is turned into a know-it-nothing by my kids.

Our summer vacation is a big, long stretch of unstructured time.  There are no camps or classes of any sort, only the occasional "wanna go?" with destinations like library, park, hike, beach, airport, or museum.  I like giving the kids blank pieces of paper and all kinds of art materials like pens, paints, crayons, yarn, string, pencils, ink, glue, cardboard boxes and rubber bands.  Our house is full of beautiful little things for them to play with.  They invent games together and spend a couple of hours reading daily.

I saw my son's former kindergarten teacher yesterday, and I had to ask her for some suggestions about how to keep his excitement for math alive over the summer.  He keeps asking for "complicated equations," and I wondered if I needed to have more math materials on hand.  She said, "Draw boxes and have him fill in the numbers!  Just put some pluses and minuses and an equal sign in there and tell him to balance the equation.  The more open-ended, the better.  Better yet, let him fill in his own mathematical symbols, and you can just put the equal sign.  It will help him to recognize that there is never only one right answer."


  1. math is everywhere in nature
    you only need look as far as your garden or neighborhood park

  2. At the risk of being a curmudgeon, there generally *is* only one right answer in math, I think. But sometimes (always?) there are many paths to that one answer. There's the fun!


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