Given that we're normal people raising a little math whiz, Steve and I have turned to our school in the hopes that someone there can figure out where to go next with the math. In other words, we're thinking that the 2+2 type worksheets that Nate has been bringing home are not quite working for him, given that he's now doing beginner long division problems on his own. (I'm not even going to try to explain his method, other than to mention that it's totally hilarious; he starts by dividing, then multiplies to figure out what to write down, and he never seems to connect the two. Ok, I'll try to explain, because itreally is funny to watch: Say the problem is 421/8. He'll start by figuring out 42/8, so he'll mutter to himself "8, 16, 24, 32, 40..." while counting on his fingers. When he hits 48, he'll realize that he has gone over the goal of 42, joyfully issue a loud game show style "ERT!!!" and wind back to 40, delightedly writing a big 5 on the top of the division problem. As those of us who passed 4th grade math know, the next step is to write "40" under the "42" of "421" and subtract. Nate, bless his little heart, doesn't know what to write there, because by that point, he doesn't remember where the 5 he just wrote came from. So, following a mnemonic Daddy made for him, he then multiplies the 5 he just wrote times the 8 he's dividing. In other words, he does it all over again; he counts "8, 16, 24, 32, 40. 40!!!" and gets all excited and writes that under the 42, subtracts, etc. Ok, I'm describing this horribly, but it's all kinds of awesome.) Does that sound exhausting? Because that, in a nutshell, is our life.

In any event, Ms. Teacher agreed and set about to find a plan for enriching his math work. After thinking about it, she dug up some ancient worksheets that go with the book the 3rd grade teacher used to use ... evidently some time ago. Nate brought one home today, and it is, to say the least, fascinating. First of all, there are some things he just didn't know how to do, not because he couldn't do the math functions, but because he clearly worked on it by himself and didn't understand what was being asked of him. For example, he has learned about fact families in kindergarten this year, but he didn't understand what he was supposed to do when he was shown 4 different problems, 3 from the same fact family, and asked which one didn't belong. Since all of the answers on the printed page were correct, he didn't understand why one would not "belong." On the other hand, he did an impressive job of counting up coins and giving the correct time, to the minute, on a series of clocks.

Then there were the hilarious ones. Ms. Teacher put a big star next to a particularly hard problem that he got right. The question is "An airplane would be weighed in (a) grams, (b) cups, (c) meters, or (d) tons." Nate circled (d) tons. Ms. Teacher was wowed! But Mommy was not fooled. Nate has absolutely no idea what a ton is; this was clearly a random guess. When I asked him what a "ton" was, he said, "A lot of people."

Here's my favorite. "Bruno only talks on the phone to Earl, Gordon or Mario. If Bruno is on the phone, the probability that he is speaking to a boy is __ out of ___." And when Nate left it blank, his teacher circled it, as if he should try to fill it in. I almost fell out of my chair laughing. There are so many things wrong with this. First of all, the kid is 5. He has no idea what a probability is. Second, I guarantee he does not know anyone named Bruno, Earl, Gordon or Mario, and I can also guarantee that he has no idea whether those are boys or girls. And, let's face it, in 2008, can anyone be sure??

Moral of the story: teaching math to a kindergartener who is hella advanced in math but still working on his language, especially through independent study, is a tricky business. Of course, having gone through at least 4 dozen workbooks since last Hanukkah, I already knew that. It will be very interesting to see what they come up with. I just hope they figure it out soon, before I actually have to teach him probabilities, because the Gordon and Mario problem is about as complex as I can go.

By the way, the correct answer is, "Gordon, you're wearing my shirt."

## Recent Comments