Why Does Everything Have to Be about Math?

Today was the first day my son learned about subtraction with renaming. Yay! It’s neat when you realize that a particular day is focusing on a single skill that will be helpful for your child’s entire life.

In addition to using the BJU Math 2 program, we used these strategies one-on-one:

  • Unifix cubes
  • tens and ones chart
  • sometimes wrote in “+10” to the ones column when borrowing on his homework (worktext page)

 

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One way to approach teaching a new concept is to start with an easy to understand, age appropriate explanation and teacher support, and then you gradually fade teacher support to increase student independence and confidence.

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BJU Math does a great job with providing hands-on, visual support with whole objects, and gradually fading the use of manipulatives to focus on the computation by the end of lessons.

I love that our son is getting into math. He’s always been good at it, and I love how he can surprise me.  Today, while he was eating a snack after a math lesson, he was quietly thinking. Then he asked me this:

“Why does everything have to be about math?”

I asked for clarification, “What do you mean?” I immediately thought I did something wrong. I thought maybe he was getting bored of math since we work on it a lot.

He replied, “Like measuring, weighing, clocks, money.  Why? There’s guessing (estimating). There’s Legos. Like 2-by-2’s and 2-by-3’s. Temperature. Slopes, angles, heights. You need math to program a computer. I can’t believe everything is about math… even space.”

Whoa. Slow down there, first grader. I don’t have an answer for you, but I am totally impressed.

Praise God, this child has “bought in” to the fact that math is an important life skill. He gets that math is valuable.

Now, to answer my son’s question the next time he asks, I’ll have explained that God must love math because it really can be found in all sorts of places. I could explain how things in our world can be quantified. There are patterns. There are ways to measure the objects and things around us. There is a beauty in math. It can be neat and clear, and work smoothly when you don’t expect it. God loves things that are good, true, and beautiful…and math can fit into those categories.

Like most of parenting, when an unexpected question is asked, I’ll be more ready the second time around. And then I’ll refer to my husband, the mathematician, who can explain it way better. It’s like when he discovers new math during research. You quickly realize that God had a plan, and it’s a matter of discovering it.

As you teach your children math, I hope you can find ways to keep them excited about it and filled with wonder. It likely won’t be every day that they will be filled with wonder, but you can, as their teacher, inspire them. You can make math fun. You can talk about math when it’s not “math class.” Need more ideas? Check out this book for more ideas: Playing with Math.

 

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