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Informal math in the early years


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My DH teaches mathematics, so I always suspected we'd imitate Rick Moranis in the 80's Patenthood movie by sort of hot housing our kids. Ha. (Not really that extreme, but a philosophy of start 'em young.)


But I've been reading a lot of articles lately about the diminishing returns of trying to do too much too soon, and come to think of it, my DH was pretty much unschooled in the early years. I definitely want to use Beast Academy for second grade onward (my DD is really young so I'm just thinking ahead about what I want the next few years to look like). I talked with someone at BA about what program they think best prepares students for their curriculum, and they basically said that the foundation before BA doesn't matter much in terms of how it's taught. They even suggested just doing Dreambox for Prek, K and first grade (along with the normal things all parents teach kids about money, time, etc.) before BA 2.


I'm thinking we could use Kate Snow's Preschool Math early on, then maybe her K program if it's out by then, Dreambox math online, and add in the Right Start Games Kit. So, basically just all games until second grade, when we'd switch to Beast Academy.


Has anyone here done something similar and transitioned to an intensive math program later like BA without regrets?

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We were informal with math.  We talked about concepts as they came up, I introduced a handful of Montessori exercises, both with an app and real life, and we played with manipulatives.  The math stuff was always available and ready - no worksheets, no preparing, just hey, here's a way to play with numbers!  Mostly we worked on logic skills, not math: visual-spacial puzzles, chess, memory games...  I did buy Mathematical Reasoning, went through a few pages, but it lost my kid's attention quickly.  Anno was a lot more fun.

This year we tried MEP 1.  And then Kate's preschool book came out, and he looked like he may even still need that for some visualization exercises.  But the thing with MEP was that he kept wanting more of it.  We cut out quite a bit of the rote work as he mastered it.  While I figured we'd go slow, he had other ideas.


I see absolutely no harm in keeping math informal in the early years as long as you're covering mathematics, not simply arithmetic.  Math should be fun.  It's like legos in how we play with it.

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We keep everything simple when they are little. We don't even try to make things deep and connected. They complete a simple math workbook, Horizons, work on reading and handwriting, and then they spend the rest of the day playing, exploring, and imagining. I am a firm believer that higher order critical thinking skills are developed through play and that those lead to much greater levels of success than early academics.


We also love family strategy games, so we spend a lot of hours their entire lives playing strategy games. Fun with the added benefit of developing mental strategies built in! Mancala, Othello, Tsuro, etc are all games my little kids enjoy playing.


Our current college sophomore graduated having completed MV, diffEQ, linear alg, plus 5 semesters of in major physics classes, so it works for us.


It sounds to me like you should follow your instincts! :)

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I've always liked the idea of delaying formal math instruction. There are SO many great resources for playful math in the early years, and absolutely no reason to rush to a curriculum.


I share informal math ideas on my blog, and you can find plenty of inspiration in my resource pages. For instance:

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Some books I like and have used


Ruth Beechick's The Three R's



Blumenfeld's How to Tutor



Simply Charlotte Mason Mathematics



The Free African Waldorf pdfs

Scroll half way down the page



Arithmetic Village



Ella Francis Lynch's Educating the Child at Home



Year 1 of The Eclectic Manual of Methods



Pages 11-14 of Hoenshel's 1912 Teacher's Manual



Grube's Method



The above resources all play nicely with each other except some teach multiplication alongside addition instead of after it. If you are doing a lot of memory work, it is easier to teach addition facts and then multiplication facts.

Edited by Hunter
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