DS8 loves to help in the kitchen. We recently decided that the two of us will transition back to a gluten free diet, so I promised him we'd replenish our supply of bread and pizza crust. Eager to help, he and I plunged in yesterday morning.
I'm pitifully bad at allowing kids to help in the kitchen. Time is always the biggest factor; I'm in a rush to get dinner on the table, to go somewhere, to get kids ready for bed. So yesterday I decided that THIS was SCHOOL. Kitchen math school.
He set out an ample (more than ample!) supply of measuring cups and spoons. I explained the difference between teaspoons and tablespoons and we started making comparisons amongst various spoons and cups. He very quickly figured out fractions as they relate to measuring. When he needed 2 1/2 teaspoons, he grabbed the teaspoon and a 1/4 teaspoon, saying, "I want to use each of these two times!" He later chose to use an 1/8 teaspoon to measure out 1/2 teaspoon of ingredients saying that he'd just do it four times. This was all his idea, believe me!
He related fractions to previous experiences...talking about Mary and Laura sharing cookies with their sister in the Little House books and playing the iTouch game, Motion Math. By the end of our kitchen time he could measure pretty much anything I requested with any number of different measuring tools, not just the obvious ones.
This whole scenario may seem like no big deal to the average homeschooler, but it is to me. Assigned to read this article for a math class I'm taking, I've been reflecting on how privileged we are as homeschoolers. The article summary:
"Do we foster mathematical swindling - the too-common phenomena of students getting good grades in the subject, yet realizing they have minimal understanding—or the alternative: classroom practices that lead to true understanding?"
It's hard to avoid mathematical swindling in school. Grades carry such a huge emphasis. Testing does, as well. Yes, there are wonderful teachers out there who design classroom environments and practices that lead to true understanding, but with huge class sizes and time/money increasingly devoted to testing, it's not easy.
We're so lucky. We can easily make each part of every day a series of experiences that lead to true understanding. We don't have to settle for a fraction less.
And wish it could be true for all children, everywhere.