You don't help them by doing it for them. Let them do it for themselves. Remove the no from the lesson...let them discover for themselves, teach them that failing is part of learning, and they they aren't wrong just getting more information. Tell them what they have not what they don't have...the basic concepts, I constantly remind myself of these things as I go along.

As a parent or teacher of course you want to show them how or help them when they are struggling to get the answer, but if you love them, let them do it themselves. You couldn't possibly do their walking for them, you could catch them when they fall (or kiss and make it better afterwards) and show them how to walk but the child has to get up and walk. It's the same with the math or any learning you can't just give it to them and expect them to know it, they have to discover for themselves. And when the light bulb goes off the satisfaction brings a smile every single time. Learning is fun.

Balance this by putting them in a situation where they cannot fail. Nothing is more cruel than a trick question or a question where they don't have enough knowledge to answer...it is frustrating and exactly not fun. Some teachers confuse this with "a challenge." Keeping it challenging is important and those challenges should come AFTER the child/student has attained a level mastery, occasionally on the way to attaining mastery but remember this ladder and the concept of degree of difficulty.

In the half hour video which is on the sample lesson page the 4 year old exhibits some of the exact same thinking that many adults across the country did during my travels. He counts more than just the sides, he counts by fours instead of ones he is unable to move the pieces easily to form rectangles at first...but all of these things will be easy for him within the year...he's only 4. What is obvious to adults is not always obvious to children, your job is to make it obvious and let them discover it. Unlike the adults he doesn't have any judgment of himself when he gets it wrong or when he isn't getting it right, and he learns quickly from his mistakes and uses the knowledge instantly to help him solve other problems.

On the other hand, his brother who has more experience can see the answers easily and watching his brother really cements the knowledge in for him as he is dying to tell him the answers when the 4 year old doesn't get them right away. It was also fun to see the younger brother insist on making his different from his brother, different but still correct.

There is a lot more going on with this factoring lesson for me than just teaching them addends and multiplication.

He is still having fun learning and playing. Imagine where he will be with his understanding by the time he is 7 THREE years from now, 158 weeks away...300 or 400 lessons away...of course multiplication will be mastered by then, and all 45 addends and fractions and algebra and more. And I will be an even better teacher then than I am now because he will have had a chance to teach me so much more too.

The half hour lesson is available now with a password at the House of math. Factoring polynomials really is child's play, it's a shame more children don't get to play math this way and are relegated to addition and counting at this age.

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