#983: When it all adds up

Coming out unscathed from my very first (and, I hope, my last) tax audit today, I realised how significant it is that we understand numbers. Maybe it’s because I’m such a bookworm, but I think I’ve always emphasised to my kids the importance of developing early literacy skills over numeracy. When our kids are young, we get so much excitement out of hearing them recite the alphabet for the first time, or read their first word. But just as important and exciting should be seeing them understand fully what numbers are and what they can do.

For about the past year, we (all three older members of our household) have been trying to explain the simplest math concepts to the Boy, like basic addition to begin with. But all during last year, it seemed that he just didn’t want to, or had too short of an attention span to stick with it. Or maybe he just couldn’t–gasp!–grasp the concepts that his sister had already seemed to understand so easily at that age. For a while, for example, he would say that 6+6=66.

So I decided to put a hold on it for a while, and go on to some other field that had nothing to do with numbers. And of course, that’s when the best learning happens. Because somewhere along the way, on his own while we weren’t looking, he figured things out on his own. All of a sudden, he surprised us with simple addition and subtraction. And he was counting with his eyes, rather than with his fingers. (In fact, I don’t think I’ve ever known him to count with his fingers, even when I encouraged him to do so.) The world of numbers had, on its own without further help from us, opened itself to him, and he was liking it.

Now, of course, my Boy understands that 6+6 does not = 66, and it looks like he likes his math. I get tremendous joy in seeing him zip through his basic math exercises, seemingly without much effort, and I know that this type of knowledge will serve him well down the road . . . when he’s being audited.