Maths Without Trying

‘The Artist’s Son, Jean, Drawing’ – Pierre August Renoir

Something about home schooling.

How we learn is fascinating. Children are especially interesting, as in the early years progress is easy to witness. How they have that ‘Helen Keller by the water pump‘ moment and grasp that everything has a name. They instinctively sort and group in a subtle way (e.g. Serena, Julie and Deborah are their names but they are also called ‘girls’ and can be grouped together despite variations in size, age and appearance) I don’t really understand how my children learned to tell cats from dogs, they didn’t need a flow chart, they just looked when I said “cat” or “dog” and absorbed.

All this maths starts so young. When C was tiny she saw three bags on the floor. She called them Mummy, Daddy and Baby, she would often ‘count’ groups of three like this. It felt significant, because if we took one away while she wasn’t looking, she would know it had gone, she would know the group had lost it’s ‘threeness’. All part of “one to one correspondence”.

I do like workbooks because they give me a feeling of blithe progress, but it’s this kind of understanding that I am always reaching for with the children. It has meaning and utility.


2 thoughts on “Maths Without Trying

  1. I watched a video once in a child development class that showed how babies as young as a few months old can do math–basic addition and subtraction. They would prop the baby up in front of a tiny “stage”, and block a portion of it. They would walk one little toy out onto the stage and then behind the blocked portion. And they’d do it again. When they removed the blocking curtain, if there were two little toys behind it, the baby glanced at it and then moved its attention to something else.

    But, if they secretly removed one of the toys or added another toy, when the curtain would raise, the number would be wrong and the baby would stare intently at the toys for 30 seconds or more, and would look to its mother! “These maths are not right, momma! I demand an explanation!”

    Anyway, this may be the longest comment ever, but your post made me think of that. My husband was homeschooled along with his four siblings and we plan to homeschool if/when that season of life comes upon us. I enjoy reading about your homeschooling experiences.

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