Thursday, May 26, 2011

Stoked About Math

Our approach to math has been somewhat hit and miss over the past couple of years. Part of this is due to our move from Florida. The other part of the story is that we simply have not made it a priority. Our oldest son is working on problems (through his Internet based curriculum) that I did not encounter until middle school Pre-Algebra . It has been challenging, but he has finally started independently grasping the concept. Very cool!

Here is an example (created by yours truly):

Bubba shot 3 deer and 2 turkeys, and with his shotgun. He had 8 total carcasses in his pickup truck. How many possums did he kill? Write an equation and solve.

Here is what the equation and answer looks like:

x + (3+2) = 8                          ans:    x = 3

This is one of the simpler problems! Quite a challenge for a 9 year old, IMO. What is not so cool is that he does not have command of the foundational aspects of math that will become more important as the concepts increase in difficulty.

Our 7 year old daughter is still working on addition, subtraction, skip counting and counting money. She is making progress, but exhibits quite a bit of self-doubt when presented with more challenging problems in these areas. Son number 2 (5 years old) is just beginning to count and add.

We hope to spend part of the next academic year getting back to basics and reinforcing foundational skills. It is one thing to go through the motions and learn how to master a certain concept. But isn't it more important to understand the reason why a problem is solved in a certain way? This was something that I never grasped until I entered college.

We are going to  take a cue from scripture and build our mathmatical house on the rock of place values, mental math, quick recall of multipication facts, etc. in preparation for the storms of complex equations, algebraic expressions, word problems etc.

There is nothing wrong with taking a few steps back and regrouping from time to time to make the journey less difficult in the future. Such is life!

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