Tuesday, July 3, 2012

My Mathmatician

Math is something that I have always loved. It always just came so naturally to me, like second nature. I still love doing math. Nothing thrills me more than for one of my younger cousins or my friends children to call me up and ask for help with their algebra. I love it because it is rational and concrete. There is no gray area, no room for personal interpretation. There is one correct answer and there is a way to find it. There is no analyzing, no conjecture, no supposition. Apparently, my son shares this love and natural ability with me.

By the time his preschool year was over, he was already doing basic addition. He picked up the concept easily, and was a pro at adding single digit numbers together. At some point, I had introduced him to the concept of subtraction, but didn't really push it too much. Then, in preparation for our recent family reunion trip, I bought him a new game for his leap pad. The Penguins of Madagascar, Operation Plushy Rescue. The packaging said that the game works on skills of animal facts, patterns, more than, less than, addition, and subtraction. The basic game play is similar to old school Nintendo. The game play is punctuated with puzzles to solve and questions to answer. He played the game incessantly for two days, never once asking for help with any of the challenges. In no time flat, he had mastered subtraction, addition and subtraction involving two digit numbers, and even basic algebraic equations! (like 9+?=10) I didn't even realize how well he was doing at first.

Last night at bedtime, he was quizzing me with math problems, which is one of his favorite things to do. I was quizzing him back also. I asked "what is fifteen minus two?" Without hesitation he answered "thirteen, because it takes away the fifteen and the fourteen." Wow. He doesn't use fingers, doesn't count in his head, he just answers. He knows it by rote, yes, but he also gets it. He understands the relationships between the numbers. There was more evidence of this today when we picked up his friend Little Britches. In the car on the way back to our house, he was showing his new game to his friend. LB got to a point in the game where he needed to answer a math problem. It was subtraction. The game asked what is six minus three. LB asked what does minus mean? Boo answered him, "it means taking away something." I further explained this way. "If you have six of something, and you take three of them away, how many would you have left?" Boo responded, "three, because three plus three equals six."

Not only am I stunned that he has attained this level of understanding before he even enters kindergarten, I am blown away that it all has just come easily and naturally to him. It's not something he's been purposefully taught. He just picked it up. Just the way he did letters, numbers, letter sounds, and reading. The kid is scary smart. I'm not sure I'm going to be able to keep up with him by the time he's in sixth grade!

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