I recently sat down with my son’s school teacher and she gave me a very brief suggestion for how to teach basic math skills to a six-year-old. She explained that they’re trying to get kids to think and count not just by ones, but also by fives and tens. She explained that they will take a number (say 38) and ask the kids how many tens go into this number, how many fives, and how many ones. I suppose it’s really division/multiplication without the kids knowing or really grasping that idea yet. The funny thing is, if you talk to kids in a certain causal way, they can actually sometimes do difficult math without knowing it. Even my 4-year-old surprises me with his ability to ‘get’ fractions.
This weekend we cut out a bunch of paper circles in three different sizes, and then labeled the circles with tens, fives and ones. Then we played with the numbers, adding them up and subtracting them to reach certain numbers. It’s such an easy project, and once you’ve made the numbers, you can keep them around for future math lessons. We brought out these numbers several times over the weekend to ‘play maths’, and the kids had no idea how much they were learning.