Keep on Schedule or Let 'em Fly?

Question:

I just started homeschooling my 5 year old boy who loves math. I bought the Calvert Kindergarten curriculum because I had no idea what I was doing and thought I needed a lot of structure (which is what I got). It seems to be too slow for him and sometimes boring. He already knows how to do simple addition, subtraction, and multiplication in his head because he is always asking us math questions (especially related to money). He carries around a calculator all day and comes to tell me what 572 plus 12 is. He wants to know about millions and billions and beyond. We have never done addition or beyond on paper but it seems he is ready for that. Should I continue on with these lesson plans as they are outlined or let him go on ahead as he wants to do?

Answer:

What a wonderful situation you are in! You have a 5 year old who wants to fly—so let him!

Your question brings back memories of my own son, Mark (who graduated from a university in Political Science), when he was just a little boy attending kindergarten public school (back in the days before I homeschooled!) A few weeks after school began, I got a phone call from the teacher. Mark was in trouble! It turned out that he was guilty of “sneaking ahead” in his math book. I had to stifle a chuckle as the teacher explained his crime! He was so interested in math that he couldn’t stay with the slow-moving class, going laboriously over things that he already had figured out. He wanted to fly! I solved the problem my taking him out of school and bringing him and his math book home, where I told him to do all the pages he wanted! It only took him a week to finish the book and beg for more. I bought math manipulatives, math games, math toys and he soared! He loved math and loved the freedom to satiate his curiosity!

I can think of no quicker way to kill a natural love of learning that to enforce a slow-moving schedule on an interested learner. Think about how it feels to us adults to sit in a class where the teacher answers your eager, pertinent questions with: “we’ll get to that later in the course.” It doesn’t take long before apathy sets in, simply out of frustration.

There are so many wonderful math resources to satisfy your son’s anxious desire to learn. If you choose to use a different textbook, I highly recommend Singapore Math. It moves quickly and caters to children with its bright pictures and visual representations of the math formulas. You can give him a free placement test (online) to see where he needs to start.

A good place to learn about big, big numbers is this website: http://www.mathcats.com/explore/reallybignumbers.html . In fact, the whole website, www.mathcats.com, is excellent for young ones yearning to learn more and more about math. Here are my favorite math resources too—you can find them in my store:

Quarter Mile Math Sum Swamp Clock-o-Dial

Multiplication Songs Addition & Subtraction Game Pack

Family Math

What could be more fun than a child who is eager, eager to learn?!  Have fun together!