numbers are easy

When we were at playcentre a friend’s 1 year old threw some balls over the fence. She made it very clear she wanted me to go and fetch them as she wasn’t allowed to. I go, she’s watching over the fence, I find two balls and bring them back to her and she makes it quite clear I haven’t found them all. After some looking I find another and she takes this ball and is then able to move on. From this I can deduce that she can count accurately to 3. Not one for each hand but 3. She wasn’t talking, her understanding ahead of her language, so who knows if in her head she said “one, two, three”, or “one for this hand, one for the other hand and an extra” or some way of thinking about numbers that we loose as we learn how other people talk about such concepts (I can’t help but see this as a loss as much as it is a gain). But she was certainly doing one to one counting, for each throw out she needed a ball back. Helena showed me she could add and subtract well before she was 5 by working out how old she was when her older friends were 5 (she used “steps” to work it out). I don’t feel the need to teach her numeracy as she works out stuff on her own and every now and then stuff comes out. She multiplies in her head, she says “groups of”. And she likes word problems. My theory is that when she’s tired of one concept because she’s worked it out to her satisfaction she’ll find another, as reinforced by Piaget and his ideas of developmental readiness. I find ways to emphasize (more correct to say make obvious) the maths I do, like this tally and graph.

We have maths books out of the library which I look at and maybe I spontaneously read a page out loud because some of the pages I find interesting. I try to chuck stuff out there and hopefully meet her zone of proximal development (thanks Vygotsky). Easy peasy. (Note here we don’t write maths down, not “1 + 1 = 2” style so don’t blur into literacy/symbols).

It’s other stuff I find hard. I am interested in literacy, and how we think, so I’m looking for evidence that Helena is doing the brain things Barbara Arrowsmith-Young talked about in her book, The woman who changed her mind. The book that made me think that I wasn’t as “normal” as I thought, that maybe I have some kind of processing difficulties (many friends have pointed out to me that I get stuff wrong and have shown me the text they sent me to prove how wrong I was, I do the ha ha, I was born blond thing). It’s not that I feel that the act of reading is important more the understanding and the deeper thinking about the content and so much of that can be done verbally. Being able to read does open doors, as does the physical act of writing. What I’d like to know is the clues, ones as obvious to me as the ones in numeracy that show her brain function… all the fluffy stuff (stuff with undefined edges) I want to put in the literary box, or is it symbol recognition, memory, or access to one’s brain. I scoffed (internally) at Helena’s “I want to be a writer” because I was thinking of her reluctance to put pen to paper, and her reluctance to record her self saying stories… I was of course wrong. I just don’t want to miss something, expect too much… basically stuff it all up, put her off!

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