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My little professor February 28, 2012

Posted by mareserinitatis in education, homeschooling, meta, teaching, younger son.
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The younger son is really blowing me away in math.  He started 5th grade math yesterday, and we expect him to be through it by the end of the year.  If you’re wondering why this is surprising, keep in mind that he’s only 7.  (My husband and I both shake our heads and keep wondering what we would’ve accomplished had we been able to accelerate in school.)

I will admit that the program recommends students do at least 20 minutes of math per day, and he does 40. I found that he needed some time to ‘warm up’.  It seems like when he starts, he’s not crazy about the idea of doing homework.  He would much rather go play with his Legos (and I can’t say I blame him).  So he spends the first few minutes sighing and agonizing about having to do homework.  Then, after 5-10 minutes, something clicks, and he decides he likes what he’s doing and starts focusing.  So maybe half of the time is productive.  I then have him do another 20 minute session (and by this point, he’s enjoying himself, so I almost never have to remind him), where he seems focused for about 10 minutes or so, and the last 10 minutes, he starts getting distractable.

When we did 20 minutes, he would have to quit just as he was getting into his stride.  I also found that it took him longer to get through things because it had been a longer amount of time since he’d last seen it.  He would forget things that he’d already learned.

It also took me a while to realize that while he may be wiggling and looking around at everything else, he apparently has to move to think.  (If I wiggled around half as much as he did, I’d fall out of my chair.  And my productivity would take a serious dive.)  I keep wondering if he wiggles this much at school, although his teacher has never mentioned it.  Also, I supposed part of it comes from sitting in a desk most of the day.

I really like to sit with him while he’s doing his math.  I don’t usually say much, or I’ll be reading something on my iPhone.  If he gets stuck, though, he likes to talk through the problem, and I am amused at how he sounds like a little math professor.  (Heck, I think he explains things better than some of my elementary school teachers did.)  Last night, however, I noticed that he was supposed to be comparing two sets of equations with numbers regrouped in different ways.  The lesson was on the associative property of multiplication.  The problems involved solving one multiplication expression and then the same expression again with the numbers grouped differently.  It looked something like this:



The idea is to prove that you can regroup the numbers and end up with the same answer, verifying that multiplication is associative.  The younger son would solve the first equation and then just type the same answer into the second one.

I said, “Don’t you think you ought to solve that second one just to make sure it’s the same?”

He responded, in my best little exasperated professor voice, “No. Multiplication is associative, so I don’t need to.”

I couldn’t help but giggle.

If he already thinks he knows more than me now, I dread what he will be like as a teenager.


1. nicoleandmaggie - February 28, 2012

The other day DC asked me if a parallelogram had a line of symmetry. I thought about it and said yes. Apparently I did not think about it carefully enough. So we drew one out and cut one out and tried to fold it and low and behold, it does not have a line of symmetry, much less two such lines.

Three hours later DC came up to me and admitted he’d gotten it wrong the first time too. I thought that was nice of him.

He and my husband decided they wanted to do algebra the other day so he’s been excitedly quizzing me about problems like “5 minus circle = 4, what is circle”?

What program are you using to accelerate? We had been using Singapore informally at home but once he started elementary he stopped being quite so amenable to doing extra work after school (they’re doing Saxon at school), so we only do it on weekends. He’s also gone through the second grade of those thick Brain whatchamacallet workbooks, but without his basic facts memorized he’s not really interested in doing triple digit addition or multiplication, so Singapore is a happier experience.

mareserinitatis - February 28, 2012

I LOVE Singapore. That’s what I used with my older son. I am considering trying to lobby the school where my younger one goes to use it, even if he won’t be, because it’s far better than the program they have now. (I have a few opinions on it, which is an entirely different post. Saxon is world’s better than this one.)

Currently, he’s using Stanford’s EPGY program (and he’s allowed to read while his classmates are doing math in school). There is an open enrollment option that’s much cheaper (and we’re thinking of trying their language arts one over the summer). We pay for the full program, though, so that they’ll send transcripts to the school. (I think they’re still nervous about it as they had him do a short math test in the middle of the year to make sure he was progressing.)

It’s so funny when they learn algebra. The younger boy’s class was doing some addition and subtraction, and he decided to write down some of the facts with letters as part of the equation. However, when I asked him what values they were supposed to have, he was able to tell me, so I think he’s got the right idea. :-)

nicoleandmaggie - February 28, 2012

Right now he’s doing ok at his private– he’s grade-skipped K and spends half the day in 1st and seems to be learning stuff. But the school may go out of business before next year… they’ve been having major financial difficulties and the head just stepped down (which is good for the long-term if they can survive how bad that is for the short-term).

We recently looked at a K-6 Montessori and I was excited to see that they’re doing the old new math (something I fondly remember from the Best Fourth Grade Teacher Ever) in addition to Singapore. I got a little shiver of excitement looking through their box of how to do math in different bases.

2. Terrified of homeschooling (again) « FCIWYPSC - March 27, 2012

[...] up the amount of time he spends from 20 to 40 minutes per day, my reasons for which are elaborated in another post.  And he no longer gets everything right.  In fact, on his daily practice, he’s usually [...]


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