Tuesday, May 5
Teaching Math to a Three Year Old
Sarah, my 3 year old, joined in the reviewing fun by working through the book Beginning Mathematical Reasoning. from The Critical Thinking Co. I have been impressed with this book. It is a book much more than a workbook. There are disposable pages in it, but many of the lessons can be worked through on the couch, just reading and discussing with mom. The disposable lessons could be worked with an overhead-sheet and a vis-a-vis marker to make them non-consumable and reusable for a younger sibling.
Most preschool workbooks are busy-work more than anything, imitating a school setting and struggling to teach young children skills that they would pick up much easier if they simply waited one or two more years. The other preschool books on my shelf begin with tracing numbers and introducing counting. Most children this age are not yet capable of successfully writing their numbers. The math lesson becomes a frustration and accomplishes little. This book takes them at their level and helps them recognize mathematical concepts even before the hand-eye coordination is developed enough to fill in a workbook page.
Sarah has loved 'doing school' with her sibs. She wants to keep going and going, though I usually make her stop at two pages. Her 5 year old big sister loves to "teach" these two page lessons, which has helped her gain confidence in her own mathematical reasoning.
The book is of incredible quality; Vivid colors and fun illustrations. It progresses and eventually does get to actually writing numbers. I love the way the lessons are organized and presented. Sarah can easily identify groups of 5 now by sight rather than counting. This surprised me how quickly that developed. The book has helped her "see" mathematically. It is a great introduction that completely prepares them for 1st grade math. I see absolutely no reason why a Kindergarten math would be necessary after completing this workbook.
So....would I buy it if I weren't reviewing it? That's the big question I try to keep in mind with my reviews. What would I want to know if I were considering buying this product?
First, if you are excited about your bright, young child developing his education early then this is an excellent resource for you. You might be thinking, "Well, who wouldn't want their child developing their education early?"
If you are thinking this, the preschool child you are considering buying this book for is most likely your oldest child, more likely your only child.
Upon hearing that statement, you might be thinking to yourself that moms with more than one child have just become too busy to work with their children properly at young ages and that there could be no other reason for not encouraging them to excel.
I was this mom. I promise, I have not changed my stance on early education because of a lack of energy or time, but on a lack of evidence in its benefits. My oldest played math games at the age of 2. He trotted off happily with his 1 foot-tall number flashcards to place beside the correct number of toys set up in piles on the rug. He didn't ask me to draw him a triangle; No, this two-year old requested turquoise trapezoids. Fast-forward 10 years. We did not stop working with him and encouraging him to be his best. He is one year ahead of grade-level in his subjects. Sounds good, but now consider: I did nothing with his younger brother that even remotely compared to what was done with the oldest. Joel had hearing problems when he was little and math lessons at the age of two were not an option. When he was 4, he was still learning to identify colors. And today? He is also a year ahead of grade level. They each have had an excellent education. One started years earlier but in the end, they are both excelling at the same rate. By the age of 7, it all balances out. I've seen it in dozens and dozens of families. Mine is a most common story.
My thoughts are as such: There is no harm in enjoying school lessons at an early age as long as everyone is enjoying the lesson. Just keep in mind that everything you are spending 3 years teaching could also be learned in around 3 months if you were to wait until they were 6 or 7 and developmentally ready to process and retain the lessons.
If you don't believe me, and feel a math program for a 3 year old sounds like an excellent idea, I can honestly say that I've never seen a better program. Don't worry. I wouldn't have believed me when I was raising my oldest either.
If you opt to wait until they are ready to write, I would recommend Rod & Staff's Working With Numbers for about $2.00.
All that said, we will, without a doubt, continue using these lessons. Sarah is having too much fun with them to stop and she is learning something. I enjoy the extra one-on-one time with her as well.
It wasn't a book we were sent to review, but I must share another Critical Thinking Co. book that my family has enjoyed: Mindbenders! These are short, sweet lessons that get them thinking! It is wonderful to watch those gears turn!
It truly is a great company, dedicated to empowering the minds of children, helping them develop deeper reasoning skills and to use a "broad in-depth analysis of evidence to make decisions and communicate his/her beliefs clearly and accurately." Be sure to check out the TOS blog for more thoughts on these products and many more from the same great company.