The first time my daughters’ teacher walked us through the math curriculum in her 3-6 Primary classroom, I noticed that I wasn’t the only parent with tears in her eyes. Units. Tens. Hundreds. Thousands. Build the number. Feel the quantity with your hands. Understand WHY ten ten bars equals 100. See with your own eyes why ten tens is a flat square. Hold in your hand that 10x10x10 is a CUBE. It actually IS a cube!
You see, I could have loved math if I had learned it that way. I had the aptitude, but there were too many times that my (mainstream, teacher in front, kids at desks) class moved on before I really comprehended it. Before I had mastered it. I could do the work, but I felt like I was missing something because I didn’t truly understand it.
Fast forward a few years to a 1st-4th grade “Work Fair” at my daughters’ Montessori school. Children sat on the floor, presenting works over and over again as the adults moved around the room from presentation to presentation. I noticed a neighbor’s son, who was 9 years old, giving a presentation about a funky-looking puzzle. I also noticed that the crowd of adults around him was growing larger. And larger. As it turned out, he was explaining the trinomial cube.
Yes, the trinomial cube.
The one that I first encountered in trigonometry in 11th grade. As usual, I could “do it,” but I had no idea what “it” was. It made no sense to me… Until this 9-year-old explained it. Who knew the trinomial cube was an actual thing? My kids did! The binomial cube had been in their classrooms as a puzzle since they were three-year-olds.
Who knew there was such a thing as a decanomial cube?
That 9-year-old did.
My daughters have a completely different relationship with math than I do. Don’t get me wrong – my kids ROCK but they aren’t rocket scientists. They are normal kids, but they don’t fear math.
Math doesn’t make them feel like they’re lacking, in some way. My six-year-old was bursting with pride when she finally did the thousand chain, laying ten-bars end to end, all the way down the hallway on a long roll of green felt. I’m talking bursting with pride! The whole room lit up with her excitement.
My kid. Excited about math. How awesome is that?
Ami Petter-Lipstein spends her days educating families on her belief that school can (and should) be awesome, learning is naturally fun, and curiosity should be joyfully encouraged. She is a nationwide consultant on marketing, PR, program building and expansion for Montessori schools, and is a passionate Montessori parent of three fabulous kids who run INTO school each day with big smiles on their faces, excited to learn.