Monday, August 30, 2004

Unschooling Math for Preschool

Today my 4 year old and I opened up a math game that I bought this weekend at the Homeschool Conference (more on the conference in another post). The game is Math Play from DK and it includes brightly colored cards with numbers, number names, and pictures of the same number of items, in correspondance to the number on the card. There are also some other kinds of cards in this game kit. Its cute and bright and if you feel like spending about $13, not bad, but doesn't have much that can't be played by using a regular deck of playing cards and removing Jacks, Queens, Kings, Aces and Jokers.

One feature of this game are a set of cards that have a number of objects on one side and a sentence asking how many objects. Flip the card over and you see the answer -- the number. My daughter is completely capable of reading the question and counting the items for the answer, but she doesn't -- she reads the question then flips over the card and reads the answer. This bugs me. I have enough of an unschooling philosophy that I'm okay with her playing with the cards any way she wants. However, it annoys me that she asks a question, makes no attempt to answer it, but immediately flips to the answer. Why? I don't know -- it makes me almost feel that she's being lazy -- but I don't know any lazy 4 year olds and she certainly isn't one.

To read more, click the Xs...

I'm intrigued with this because I noticed the same thing with a set of Brain Quest books she received [these are cards that are hinged at the bottom. Each card has three simple questions on it. The answers are on the following card]. She loves these cards and they are great for the card, very compact. I always thought she was doing them, but once when I paid attention, she was really only reading the question cards and immediately sliding them over and reading the answer. To me, its like cheating to do that, but I don't think thats her intent at all. Maybe she's practicing reading, maybe she sees no reason to find an answer when its provided to her -- maybe she even thinks that the game is to read the question and then the answer -- perhaps it makes no sense to a 4 year old mind that you would work out an answer which is provided on the next page. Dunno.

Anyway, long story short is my irritability at how she was playing with the cards led her to pack up the game and not want to play it anymore. She conducted herself with a lot of maturity considering I probably frustrated her and ruined her fun.

I know I need to leave her alone on things like this. So long as she has other toys or things to play with where the answers are not provided for her, she will work them out. I know her well enough that I should not have gotten on her case about not 'working' the cards properly.

Bad mommy, go read more Holt.


Anne Zelenka said...

It's so hard to put our philosophies into practice. I think I'm attracted to ideas that offer me the most personal growth and thus are the most difficult for me to make work in the real world.

When my 8 year old explores something on his own, he explores it really deeply and spends way more time on it than I might think is necessary or useful. Probably it's like you say: your daughter is just practicing her reading right now. That's what she's caught up by. (Need I add that I would be thrilled if my 4 y.o. was doing the same but instead she seems to be driven to explore the limits of provoking her brother!)

Marjorie said...

Its so hard to let go of control -- even when I think I have, I realize I have to give up even more. While this has clear application for me with my daughter, I think its a theme that runs through all aspects of my life.