Monday, July 06, 2009

Literacy and Numeracy - A Different Approach

I have often claimed on this blog that with regard to literacy, early is not necessarily better. Over and over again, we have seen autonomously educated children who didn't start to learn to read until they were 8 - 10 years old, rapidly progress to adult level reading and become avid readers.

I am now pretty sure that the same process applies to mathematical concepts, if usually slightly after the literacy competences kick in.

Apparently HEors are not the only ones to have observed this phenomenon. Now if only we could convince people like Zenna Atkins.


Working Dad said...

Couldn't agree more, our youngest developed a huge fear of being compelled to read after spending her first few years in school, it was not until she was nearly 10 that she got over that and started reading because she wanted to. Within a very short time I had to put up a shelf next to her bed to hold the enormous stack of books she would want to read for hours most evenings.
Now aged 12 she can type at about 120wpm and loves reading - no formal teaching required AT ALL!

Jax said...

what observations have you made about children acquiring mathematical concepts then? Am particularly intrigued by this process atm.

Anonymous said...

I am quite sickened by any woman admitting to having six jobs while other people are losing their only job due to the mismanagement of the government.


Anonymous said...

@ Jax,
my son now 6 started when he was 5 askig things like hat is 2+2, then 4+4,8+8 etc obviously loving the pattern. he found a calculator and taps away on it in bursts sometimes h know what umbers he is inputting and recognises the answer other times he has to ask me to tell him.
Yesterday without calculator he decided to make a paper sandal for dd with 3 traps on and announced he would need 6 pieces of tape to strick the ends down. he hadn't physically counted them so must have computed it mentally. yet if I asked him what 2 * 3 was he wouldn't know. not that I do that sort of testing but it just crops up occasionally. He is interested in numbers but it only takes up a small amount of his time. He can add together mentally numbers that add up to 10 or less but often he will ask me what the answer is. I think he already has an answer in mind but asks me as a way of checking his own thinking.

Anonymous said...

sorry for all those terrible typos *blush*

Dani said...

Very similar experience with arithmetic here, with our ds. He has always been interested in numbers, both in order to use them in real life (eg to measure the passage of time, calculate how long it will take to save up for a particular toy) and also in a more musing, wondering kind of way (how old will you be when I'm 27, how many seconds are there in a week, etc).

He is now very good at adding, multiplying and dividing the kind of numbers he comes across in his day to day life (money, minutes, ingredients, measurement of height and weight of people).

We have done workbooks with him when he asked to do them (mainly because his sister enjoys that kind of thing and she was doing them), but I don't think they have been important in his acquisition of these skills. I think it has been much more through incidental conversation and having his questions answered.

Leo said...

Why is this still a controversy?

Age has nothing to do with anything. A person learns better when the person is personally interested and motivated.

People confuse age with the fact that knowledge has to be identified and integrated in a certain order. Before learning addition you can't learn multiplication. This doesn't mean that if a child can't count at three that they are doomed.

The age development stepts are a corruption, a necessity created by the mechanical limitation of the school system. It's nothing to do with how people learn.