Educating Lucy: Maths

As I have said before, I do not like the way in which schools teach maths, so what do I do instead? Do stuff that is fun, that encourages the underlying skills rather than focusing on arithmetic.

The usual attempts to make maths relevant to children are pathetic pretences. Children do not need to use much arithmetic: but it is easy to make them enjoy things. Unlike with reading I have not found a simple answer: I try a lot of things to see what works. Some of the things we have done:

  • Playing games that require logic: noughts and crosses, nim, etc. It works well, and even other types of games can be useful (playing monopoly is a good chance to practice addition, for example).
  • Cutting out shapes and making solids such as cubes, tetrahedrons, cylinders, etc. Lucy loved this.
  • Learning programming. Lots of kids like computers. I taught Lucy to draw shapes, so she learnt a bit of geometry at the same time, with a Logo (which is designed for children) variant. It worked for a while, then but she hit her limits. It is something I intend to return to, and I have some ideas.
  • Binary numbers. She loved converting from binary to decimal and back when I taught it to her last year. She can still do it, even after a lapse of some months.
  • Sequences. Lucy was delighted by the idea of sequences. See my previous post.
  • Graphs: This also went really well. Lucy got her first taste of a lot of concepts this way:
    • Cartesian co-ordinates
    • Algebra: She can draw a graph given an equation of the y = a + bx type.
    • In conjunction with sequences, and diagrams, the ideas of convergent series. I am not sure this has stuck.

None of this was particularly difficult to teach and there is nothing to demanding for a child this age: I want it to be fun, not a chore, and it has been (for both of us).