Thursday, October 27, 2011

Doing Hard Math

When Mom has a headache, school is done in bed.

During the 4 years I homeschooled Xavier, I had a difficult time finding a math program that kept up with him, let alone challenged him. My problem was that I needed to get the basics in him so that he could fly into the great world of higher maths, while still moving quickly.  I failed miserable. However, he has finished those basics, and was ready to move on this year. Of course, then he decided to go to school. That certainly wasn't the answer to his math woes!

The closest we came to filling his need for math learning was his constant reading of Murderous Maths books.  These are hands down his favorite books. Eventually, we hope to own the entire set. In the meantime, he reads the ones he has over and over again. He desperately wanted his math teacher to like them. Unfortunately, his math teacher is definitely into conventional math teaching.

Now, I have him home. Just in time, Art of Problem Solving released a Prealgebra book. While I think he is ready to do other Algebra programs, I know he wasn't ready for AOPS' Algebra program. I was thrilled to find out they were coming out with a Prealgebra book.  It has been everything I hoped it would be.

For the first time, Xavier is challenged in math.  He really has to think about what the math book is telling him. He has to chew on the information and figure out what it wants him to know. Right now, he is learning about subtraction.  That's right, I said subtraction. This is the problem set he had trouble with yesterday:

Use the definition of subtraction to explain the following equations.
(a) 11-(-13)=11+13
(b) -11-13= -(11+13)
(c) 11-13= -(13-11)

He had no problem with (a) and (c).  (b) gave him fits. You see, he had learned that when you subtract a number from a smaller number, you subtract the smaller number and stick a negative sign on the answer.  He just could not get over the fact that, in his mind, the answer to -11-13 should be -2.  It took much discussion (he does much of his best work out loud), bringing money and debt into the discussion, and a couple hours later, he walked into the dining room and used a few math problems to illustrate what the book was wanting him to learn. Now, he truly has an understanding of negation, instead of having a trick to get an answer.

Finally, Xavier is having to work to understand concepts.  This is very important for gifted kids.  His brain won't shut off. It is always going, usually faster than his body can handle.  We need for him to be challenged. We need him to know there are things that are hard. He needs to have to work at math. Xavier loves math, but it was becoming boring. Now, it is exciting again. Things are so much better when you have to work hard for them.

No comments:

Post a Comment

Please, be respectful. We're all friends here. We can disagree with respect.


Related Posts with Thumbnails