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Discussion Starter · #1 ·
I'm new to homeschooling and new to this board. I have a question about my 5.5YO son who is in Kindy. He's doing really well with a mostly unstructured learning approach. He's absolutely fascinated by learning to read and science projects. I pretty much follow his lead and provide what I think will support his interests. This first year's been a little hectic....we had a baby at the end of November (but my kids sure know lots about anatomy and birth now!)

Recently (just in the past few weeks) he's been interested in reading clocks and other number-related topics. I've been encouraging this by asking him to describe what he sees: How many cars? Can you estimate how many cows in the field? If I eat an apple, how many left? That kind of thing. He's pretty good at it when there are actual things to see, but he seems to have real trouble imagining numbers. This is particularly problematic with time concepts. I've showed him the second hand, we've counted the 60 marks on a clock, we've set the kitchen timer for various amounts of time. But he doesn't seem to get out-of-sight quantities, and large-number quantities. He's interested enough to ask but I kind of lose him when I start to explain that there are 7 days in a week....he'll confuse days with seconds, and if I try to explain again he'll disengage. Same with things like money. He gets small change, but even at a dollar, he'll phase out and confuse '1 penny' with '1 dollar'....it's all just 1. I'm not sure I'm explaining this very well, to him OR to you!

Am I expecting too much? I'm not trying to push this, but he does seem genuinely interested in the idea and keeps bringing it up. Any ideas of when it might click in, and what should I be doing to support his interest in numbers without frustrating him? I was never very good at maths and I suppose my self-doubt is showing through here.
 

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Just subbing to see what others say....I'm at that exact point with my 5.5 dd. Could've written your post.
 

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just a quick note on the time thing. that one seems to be normal. my 6yr old DSD (in public kindy) has no idea of time. Everyday we get to school about 10-15 mintues before we can go in. dispite the fact that we count to 60 ten times EVERYDAY she will still only count to ten and then think we are done if i say 'ten mintues' when she asks how long we have to wait.

time just seems to be a concept that they can't get yet. they understand in exsists but actually grasping how seems to be voer their heads.

Can't help you for the rest or when it gets better but wanted to chime in that the time things seems to be age appropriate.
 

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I think in kindy, it really varies. Some kids have it, some don't. I think by 2nd grade most the kids can estimate quantities in an "educated" fashion. I might be wrong. However, in regards to time, I've found it easier to explain it in terms they understand. So, 10 minutes for a wait might be the same as "how long it takes to read a book or two together". Maybe use a stopwatch and do things and make a chart. Wow, it takes us 7 minutes to get jammies on and brush our teeth. Or, whatever. For actually telling time, kindergarten kids can learn to read a digital clock and a clock with hands. But, when using the clock with hands, start with just times on the hour. Then, introduce 1/2 hours. Then 1/4 hours. When they are really good at counting by fives, get into precise time. In the math curriculums that I have seen, this concept is spread between grades k-2. Money equivalents are slow go too. Start with just changing a dollar for four quarters. Ask questions that make them think--give them a pile of quarters to handle. "if I gave you 12 quarters, how many dollars is that?" Let your child put them into piles of four and count the piles. Once that equivalent is learned, move on to others. But, it is a bit overwhelming to introduce them all at once.

Amy
 

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One to one number/object correspondence kicks in at around three and a half to four. But not for very high numbers.

Time is tricky, and kids usually don't get it for a while. I remember learning how to tell time in 2nd grade at school.

There's a really good preschool/early elementary math book called Count on Math. I got it at Barnes and Noble, so it shouldn't be hard to find. It covers telling time and a few other more advanced math concepts.
 

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It sounds like he's doing really well if he's getting the idea that larger units (eg. weeks) can be constructed of / broken down into / compared to smaller units (eg. days or seconds). I think that accurate conversion and comparison of units (of time, of length, of money, etc.) can only be well-mastered after the units themselves have meaning for children.

The idea of "a second" is probably pretty new for your little guy. After he's spent a few months thinking about and internalizing what seconds are and how they fit into his life (it takes 40 seconds to wash my hands, 10 seconds to get my seatbelt on, 2 seconds to say my name) then he won't make those errors.

If you told me that there are 6 plongets in a wipple and 12 wipples in a nombul, I'm liable to make errors like your ds. That's because those units don't have any meaning to me.

In other words, he needs a fairly concrete frame of reference and experience into which to slot those units. There's no rush, but if he's really into this, you can help him build that reference frame by counting and measuring things in those units on an ongoing basis. For instance, he could use a wall calendar to mark off days and count up the weeks as they pass. You could keep a chart of how long his baths are. Today's was 28 minutes, yesterday's was just 13 minutes. Baths longer than 20 minutes give him "raisin fingers." A growth chart in his bedroom could show him that he is 45 inches tall, or "a yard and a bit," and he may be thrilled to discover that his cousin is 60 inches tall, and aspire to that height.

Miranda
 

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This is what I remember from the observations in kindergarten and my math methods class. In kindergarten kids start exploring adding with concrete objects, some kids can do problems in their head and some struggle to count their five objects correctly. By the end of first most can add using their fingers or a number line. By about third grade they start to have a lot of facts memorized, from either practice or memorization techniques and they don't often use their fingers after that point. Giving him a lot of small problems with concrete objects and having him add and subtract that way is a good way to help him start to visualize numbers in his head. Showing him how to build a math sentence is a good idea, but he still should be working with manipulatives right now. When my dd started doing first grade math I taught her how to hold a number in her head and count up from that to find answers. At first that didn't work for her and she still needed the objects, but with practice she has mastered this technique.
 

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Discussion Starter · #8 ·
Thanks! You've reassured me and given me some concrete next steps. Much appreciated!

The more I think about it, the more I think that this is more about MY discomfort with numbers. After all, I was sipmly thrilled when he learned his alphabet...I didn't worry that he didn't yet know what sound each letter made. Also didn't worry that he was somehow unaware that these letters made great literature, you know?

I think he's on the right track and I'll for sure use some of these great suggestions to foster his curiosity about maths. It'll come in time!
 
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