Wednesday, April 14, 2010

Grade 4, Spring Term, Beowulf Week 2, Day 3 ~ Musing on Math

Sometimes I wonder where we are going with math. J-Baby has always been math gifted, understanding concepts and excelling at mental math, and yet math skills seem to stump him. Specifically, he gets all tangled up with multiplication facts. I'll admit that I just don't understand; multiplication table memorization came easy to me as a child and I haven't lost it as I've gotten older.

Part of me thinks that he needs to persevere and learn his multiplication facts. Part of me sees that it is undermining his confidence in math and making it a C-H-O-R-E, something I know is wrong.

Looking at various curricula and state standards I see that a lot of children J-Baby's age don't have them down yet. A year ago T-Guy didn't know them in the rock solid way he has them now. Maybe J-Baby has difficulty organizing information in his brain, but maybe he just needs more time.

I talked to Papa, and we decided to approach the situation in this way: when J-Baby is doing concept work, such as multi-digit long multiplication, we will allow him to use a printed multiplication table. Our reasoning for this is that he needs to have the steps down solidly and getting lost because of his lack of memorization skills doesn't help him with the concepts. Everyday he will continue multiplication table review via oral recitation, timed drills, and multiplication games. We're separating this practice from the rest of his math work so that his lack of memorization doesn't hinder his progress with math concepts.

Lesson work today: American Revolutionary history, review of column addition with regrouping, written multiplication practice, silent reading, library book club, Beowulf recall and discussion.

1 comment:

Harvest Mom said...

For what it's worth, I think your approach to the math issue is dead on. Being able to understand the concept behind the rote is much more important than the rote facts themselves -- rote facts can always (ALWAYS!) be looked up, but if you can't apply them, what good does that do you? Personally, I'm a strong memorizer, so I sailed by in the early years of math in school. But I was doomed by the time I hit higher math, because I had none of the concepts down. I won't allow my kids to fall into that trap!