I know I’ve said it before… I’m not good at math. It’s not that I say it with pride, it’s rather with shame, but I’ve faced it and have conquered it. This actually goes back to when I was little and my dad was a strong believer that all geniuses were great at math and clearly he wanted his child to be a genius. So he used to try to make me memorize numbers and multiplication tables and all those wonderful things (none of which I know until this day). That may work for some people. Some people have wonderful memories, they can memorize nearly anything. If you sit down with my husband and want to talk history with him he will recall every date, name and event to the very minute details and I will just nod and try not to doze off. I’ve always been more of the hands-on person. If you want me to remember an event, I need to see it reenacted or see the impact or something.
As for math I can’t simply just memorize it and take it for what it is… I need to comprehend the why behind it all. So you can clearly understand that as soon as we get into “imaginary numbers” in mathematics, you’ve LOST me!! Also when you explain you can’t assume anything, you need to take baby-steps and my dad just was too smart for my elementary ways. So anyways, when it came to teaching my kids math I didn’t want to scare them off so to be honest I was quite okay with avoiding teaching them mathematics the traditional way altogether. I figured I’d sneak math through practical ways and they’d learn it without even knowing that it was math.
My husband thought I was being silly. He clearly didn’t have the same phobias that I did so he decided one day to introduce them to addition and subtraction. I was freaking out thinking this was going to be the beginning to the end of their passion to anything math related. At least he brought out the Chinese abacus to help the kids out. Okay, I’ll admit I didn’t even know the name of the darn thing… I came across it in Ikea one day and I knew it was to facilitate in math and I picked it up when my first-born was still just a baby because I already knew then that there would come a day that I would need all the help I could use to facilitate teaching math rather than instill any fear for it. I’m just glad my husband knew how to use the darn thing. I clearly pretended I knew what he was doing, but paid close attention as he taught them how to use it and then was so mad that I never had one because it would have saved me a lot of frustration when I ran out of fingers and toes to count on.
I have to give it up to my husband, the kids did amazing. Doing math is a piece of cake and has now become a weekly activity for our soon-to-be kindergartener! The kids know the abacus as their “calculator.”
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Question of the day: What tricks, secrets, and tools have you learned to facilitate in teaching mathematics?