Sigh. One of my biggest complaints about my college education is that the pedagogy was weak on the how aspects of teaching. HOW do you teach a child to read? I got all sorts of ideas on how to support literacy, but not the nuts and bolts of the HOW. Same with math. I had one - O*N*E math class. We mostly played games and had an incredibly boring textbook to read. Ninety-nine percent of it was about aligning your lessons to the NCTM standards. Super-helpful.
Most of the ideas I use (to compliment Rylan's MEP curriculum) with Rylan are either something I came up with on the fly or something I saw on some one's blog. For me, the best blogs for ideas are Magic and Mayhem, No Time for Flashcards, and Homeschool Creations. There are sooo many good ideas from these terrific moms!
Yesterday's math lesson was all about 0's, 1's and 2's -adding and subtracting, inequalities and writing practice. We've been doing the same thing for the past two weeks, and each day it's just a little more involved. I've noticed that Rylan does great when she is working with something tangible and not-so-great when she is working in the abstract. Well, duh... kids aren't wired for the abstract quite yet. I wonder why the curriculum developers, the so-called education experts that advise the curriculum developers, and some of the teachers that use the curriculum, keep pushing the issue that kids need to be reading, writing and completing abstract calculations at increasingly younger ages. I think it is an issue of politicians needing quantifiable results to push their agendas - and true education just gets swept out the window. I wish they (the out-of-touch politicians) could sit in the front lines and see what their unreasonable expectations are doing to kids. I really, really do. Once again, I am so thankful that I got out of public education. But, still, even as a homeschooler, I feel compelled to get the reading/writing ball rolling - it is so hard to resist the pressure not to do so.
Rylan is five years and six months. She can count to about seventy. She can't skip count - and oh, how I have tried. She can recognize odd and even, and knows about inequalities. The 'Alligator Mouth' did the trick - except now she wants to draw the teeth in every time. She can count objects, play along with a number story (I'll detail that in a moment), she can divide things out equally and group according to attribute. She recognizes patterns and loves to play with unifix cubes and Cuisenaire rods.
When I ask, pointing to the printed problem on the lesson's worksheet for the day, "What is one plus one?", I get a blank stare. I pull out two counters and try again. Then I get results. I know this all takes time - but some days I just feel like abandoning the worksheets altogether because I feel like they are getting in the way. I don't ever want math to become a negative thing between us. She loves to do all of the activity stuff - and I want to keep it that way.
Yesterday we did the little flashcards for the first time (pictured at the top). She happened to have her Lego Jessie with her, so Jessie 'helped' her count. This is probably about the third time we have counted using a number line. I've had this mat for a long time, I just never remember to pull it out. We are working on jumping up the number line to add, and jumping down to subtract. It just so happens that Jordan is also doing a lot of number line work lately- he is working with positive and negative numbers right now. So he pipes up and starts telling her about negative numbers. Then I have to send him to the kitchen table to finish his work before he completely confuses her.
In a part of her lesson we needed to demonstrate the concept of 'equal' with a balance. That is a tool I wish we had... we had to settle for a good-old-fashioned wire hanger and plastic bags. It worked for the most part. I had to pull out the marble-jar, which has been in hiding for the greater part of a year. Owen and Colin were delighted and of course begged and begged and begged for marbles. I now have about 15 marbles to fish out from underneath the stove alone. Doing 'real' activities like this works really well for Rylan, so I try and make the bulk of the lesson doing stuff like this. I know that kids do this sort of thing in public school too, but with us, it's individualized. Owen doesn't like using counters as much as Rylan does, give Jordan too much 'stuff' to work with and he gets completely distracted - keep it simple. You can't quite expect that to happen in the regular classroom.
The dryer completed its cycle right in the middle of our math lesson. (I have a hard and fast rule that you drop everything and tend to the clothes, immediately.) So as Rylan and I stood in the closet and sorted and folded and hung up stuff, we counted. "Rylan has three pants. She puts one away (puts in on the shelf), now how many does she have? Daddy has two pairs of socks. If we put both pairs on the shelf, how many do we have left? Two minus two equals zero." And so on. This works pretty well and we use this number story activity in sorts of different scenarios.
As long as we keep it real, a connection can be made. I think that might be good advice for all facets of life.