Wednesday, November 23, 2011

Davan's Latest Hobby

What's Davan been up to lately?  Well, aside from the usual activities of messing with the dog, climbing on things, doing aerial activities, hanging out with friends, reading, playing games and the like, she's been doing a lot of this:

Math.  She does it late at night, on weekends, in the car.  She's already planning on taking both her current math book and the next one to Colorado with us.  The next one is just in case she gets a lot done.

This is good.  New interests and hobbies are usually good things.  It's also a little unexpected in some ways.  She used to really like math.  She learned very young to do some pretty impressive math in her head.  However, she didn't progress beyond this early surge for a long time.

It got to the point that she thought she was bad at math.  I thought this was odd as she's really quick to pick up on math concepts and she has always had a good handle on the word problem genre.  However, she did struggle with some pretty basic math on her standardized 5th grade test, taken a little over two years ago.

Davan decided at the time that she wasn't happy with her math results and wanted to do better next time - this in spite of the fact that she was right in the middle of grade level on math and was 99th percent overall.  We did some going over of options and looking at different math systems and decided to give Life of Fred a try.

Why Life of Fred?  Well, it's a narrative approach to math and Davan is a word lover.  At the time, Fractions was the most basic book they had and it seemed like that would be about where Davan should be.

The book came and...didn't much get used.

About two months ago, Davan made it a goal again to work on her math.  She got some books from the library and worked diligently each day...for a while.  Then it slipped....and the book was due back...

I asked if she didn't like the Life of Fred book or what.  Turns out, she'd forgotten all about it.  She broke it out and started working and liked it a lot better than what she'd gotten from the library.  However, it was still a chore for her.  She was kind of off and on about it.

One day, she was having big trouble with a problem.  She'd been doing better, but still struggling some.  I asked if I could help.  She said yes.  What resulted was a revelation.  Davan had been doing math in her head.  Period.  She didn't know any paper and pencil methods (in spite of the fact that we had gone over these concepts before).  She'd developed some pretty good workarounds to this issue, but they were time consuming, slow and susceptible to small mistakes along the way.

We spent about a week going over how to do things as simple as large number addition and subtraction as well as multiplication and division.  She got it very quickly and is a pro.  And, guess what?  Now she loves math.  It's fun.  Like a logic puzzle, which is something she loves to do and part of the reason I was always surprised that she didn't like math.

I guess little holes like this might be something that comes from unschooling, but what is impressive to me is how quickly, now that she's ready, she picked up on it and how quickly she's now flying through Life of Fred.  She whipped through the second half of Fractions in about two weeks and is now a solid quarter of the way through Decimals and Percents, which she says she likes a lot better than Fractions.  Pre-Algebra with Biology is up next and she's chomping at the bit to get to it.

The above picture was taken at 9:50 last night.  Yup.  It's certainly a hobby.

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