Thursday, August 16, 2007

Algebra for Four Year Olds

A few days ago, I was sitting in McDonald's with my children, waiting for them to finish eating. Out of boredom, I developed a great little game that they have enjoyed playing. I put my hand behind my back and said, "I have 3 fingers up behind my back, and two up here (holding two up). How many do I have up all together?" My four year old looked at both of her hands under the table and set them up and counted. "Five!"
The game continued and I actually saw right there in McDonald's, my four year old "get" counting on. She finally stopped counting ALL of the fingers and started with one number and then counted on the rest. After a while, I asked questions like, "If I have 5 fingers up behind my back, and I need to have 8 fingers up, how many do I need to put up on this hand?" And of course, they both got these every time.
Now, my daughter will be five in three months. Because she has a November birthday, she does not meet the cut off for starting kindergarten this year. She is learning to read, she is figuring out missing addend problems, and her skills test all showed that she is on a 5-6 year old level (that was at age 3). Imagine if I were depending on public schools to educate my child! Not only would I have to make her wait an entire year, I know that kids coming out of our local kindergarten are not even reading. After having taught my son to read last year, I just can't imagine why children are not reading out of kindergarten! Even an average child should be able to read to a degree.
Anyway, we still play the game everyday, and my daughter loves asking ME "finger problems!" She has figured out that she has to check to make sure I'm right! And yes, we will be doing kindergarten this year, because unlike the school system, I have common sense!
P.S. I almost forgot. One of the problems I gave was to see how my son would handle it. I said, "I have 100 fingers up behind my back, and 5 up here. How many do I have up?" He answered 105, but then I asked him, "HOW can I have 100 fingers up behind my back?!" We all got a laugh out of that!

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