I always thought that it was just me with numbers; a terrible combination that would never become a harmonic relationship. But then I started noticing the kids around me.
Even those that grew to love math eventually, were good at it after a while, had some difficulties initially; some more, some less. But it goes without saying, that math is a touchy subject for most kids. Why is that so?
After many years of observation and research, and also through not schooling my youngest, I see a few reasons:
- Math is introduced much too soon as a subject, contrary to the right brain way of thinking that all children are initially born with. Linear thinking comes on much later but this is a whole subject on its own.
- It is taught outside of real life settings/situations and children’s needs, so it remains abstract and difficult.
- Teaching early math through textbooks and following a boring curriculum of “have to know s” is forcing children into functions that their mind is not ready for but have to compete with their peers.
- It is taught much too fast. New concepts are introduced before precious ones are digested and experienced.
In a nutshell, the above probably summarizes the subject for me, although much of it needs to be analyzed/explained, if we dive seriously into the subjects of mind, brain hemispheres, age, learning needs and so on and so forth.
I see no reason for children having to memorize times table or having to know division before they are ten for example. Division is, to kids, the most irrational/abnormal operation. It totally contradicts their natural thinking, which is inclusive and wholistic. Dividing is something they learn to do here, in the physical body/mind, later if allowed to progress naturally.
We can’t or rather shouldn’t enforce math on a child. We can only watch with awe as the left brain becomes attuned, as children understand their the world around them. Our task would be to help them make the connections, answer their questions, provide them with information when they are ready for it, in real life settings. Provided we have entered their world, understood their questions, don't rush them, respect them.
Once math is accepted and seen as a part of life, then learning to think in numbers, how to find the answers, what the various mathematical operations mean, becomes much easier and certainly more fun. Although still taking into account their own pace and rhythms.
No, they won’t all become mathematicians but they will be able to think and they won’t hate math.
You don’t need a PhD to be a researcher, a conscious observer, an involved being. You only need to care and be willing to shift your ideas and/or false assumptions.
After piles of textbooks, yet more side books to help with the textbooks, online programs with more multi-sensory methods of teaching, a lot of anxiety (because of my own history in math), I am finally re-discovering a whole new math world, which we both enjoy with my daughter.
Math is everywhere. In our everyday lives, in her toys, in physics, in art, in geometry/shapes/design, in music …it’s everywhere. It is not in repetition, in memorization or in a classroom setting which compares and tests/evaluates right answers.