Hidden Lessons in Math

I’ve always loved Charlotte Mason’s term “Twaddle.” This is a word she coined to describe children’s literature that has been dumbed down to the point of boredom for both parent and child.

Who knew that “twaddle” had crept into the math world? 1 + 1 = 2, counting to 10…seems basic, but I will contend, having delved into RightStart, that math in general has been dumbed down.

When we started the RightStart Curriculum, I never in a million years thought that my kids would be getting simultaneous lessons in vocabulary right alongside number concepts. And not just any vocabulary. Mul-ti-syl-lab-ic. It makes me smile.

For example:

Parallel and Perpendicular. Henry and Samuel can demonstrate parallel and perpendicular planes with their arms, can find various examples of either kind of line or plane in any given room, and yes, can even say the words. That may be the best part. I think it comes out sounding like “Perpen-dicca-ler.”

Most kids can identify and say correctly “square” and “rectangle.” But how about “quadrilateral?” We’ve spent some time over the past two weeks learning the differences and similarities between the three. I am pretty impressed that my 5-year old and nearly 4-year old know that a square is both a rectangle and a quadrilateral, as well as what a quadrilateral looks like that isn’t a square or a rectangle.

Perpendicular. Quadrilateral. They roll off the tongue. So fun to say.

I really think I would have liked math if I had had it presented to me like this.

I generally don’t think to pull out the camera for any of our studies other than science and art, but I have taken a few during some math classes as of late. Here we are today, working on our squares/rectangles/quadrilaterals on our geoboards:

A few weeks ago, we got to “Build the Stairs” on our abacuses, meaning the boys entered one bead on the first wire, two on the second, three on the third, and so on. Nothing that required great skill, but it was fun for them to do something different with the abacus besides basic math.

[Their abacuses are facing them, so their 1 is in the bottom right corner as you look at it.]

All said and done, two months into RightStart and I really feel like I made a good decision on math curriculum. We have only had one—ONE!—worksheet in the two months, and yet, the boys can do any addition/subtraction problem from 1-10 showing the numbers on their fingers, with their tally sticks, saying it out loud, or on their abacus. They can mentally group 5’s and have learned some memory tricks for the second 5 (6-7-8-9-10). They’ve delved into geometry. Done plenty of sorting, comparing, and matching.

I’ll take it.

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