Teaching kids to love learning is a passion of mine. It might surprise you to know that one of the reasons for this is because I used to hate math. My sweet six-year-old granddaughter would quickly remind me that hate is a bad word and one that I should not be saying, but that’s what I thought about math. I loved to read; in fact the only time I ever remember being disciplined as a child was for sneaking a flashlight out of a drawer and reading late into the night under my covers.
Math did not come easily to me. It still doesn’t. I remember my husband asking me to balance our checkbook shortly after we married. It was a manual process then. Even though my father was an attorney, a balanced checkbook was not important in our household. My husband, on the other hand, was the son of an accountant and a numbers geek in his own right. He loves math. Wanting to please, I went to work balancing the checkbook and was ten dollars off. Close enough, right? No big deal. You would have thought I had just asked him to cut his arm off. Let’s just say this was something we had to work through.
One of my missions when we started Veritas Press was for children to love all subjects. I am a creative, and it comes out in how I teach. When I read Charlotte’s Web with my grandchildren, we went to the museum to see spider webs. We made spider webs. I have even been known to purchase a pet spider. I want things to come alive for little ones.
This year I have had the pleasure of helping to homeschool my granddaughter. Few things make me happier. One day this year, when I picked her up for her lessons, I heard my son talking to my granddaughter about school work. She was not happy. She loves to learn, so this was puzzling. As we drove to my house, she called to me from the back seat, “Where in the Bible does it say you have to do math?” It was so funny, I almost drove into a ditch. At the same time, it made me sad. I knew she didn’t like math the way she liked reading and learning vocabulary, but I didn’t want her to have my childhood math experiences. I don’t want that for any child.
I believe there are two kinds of kids: those who just “get” math and those who work at it. The ones that get it are born with a natural understanding. They can conceptualize things. Abstract thinking comes easily. It doesn’t matter what curriculum those kids use for math; they are going to be good at math. Then there are those kids like me. They just don’t see it. And they don’t see the point of it. Marlin and I had lunch with Steve Demme around 25 years ago. Our youngest son was with us. He was four. Steve got out the Math-U-See blocks he had developed, and I watched as he started teaching our little one fractions. I looked over at my husband and said, “Well, after 35 years it finally makes sense.” I wish I had had a teacher like that. Steve’s use of manipulatives was like nothing I had ever seen. It just worked. I learned more that day than my son did.
We are so pleased to announce that we are now offering Math-U-See materials. We have added live courses using Math-U-See to our live online course listing. If you have a student who learns better through visual learning and hands-on experience, this is the curriculum for you. Don’t expect your student who struggles with abstraction to love math if you don’t give them a way to do so. Math doesn’t have to be the subject that causes a child to ask, “Where in the Bible does it say I have to do math?” With Math-U-See, you will have your children begging to do math.
And—you won’t believe this—I love to do the bank reconciliation now.
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