I was telling my husband about my day recently, and happened to mention that when a seventh grader asked me how much 7 x 7 was, I told her she had to figure that out on her own. Since both boys are always listening, even when we think they aren’t, BB#2 jumped in to the conversation:
BB#2 <shocked>: She didn’t know 7 x 7?
Me <teasing>: No, do you?
BB#2: <pause> Let me think.
<proceeds to count on his fingers, while husband and I exchange looks, wondering what he is going to come up with>
Me <admittedly floored>: Well, actually, that’s 7 x 8…So, if 7 x 8 is 56, what’s 7 less than that?
BB#2: Oh, 49.
<husband and I exchange stunned looks, while BB#2 laughs and laughs>
Have I mentioned this boy is not yet 6, and just started first grade? We already knew he was able to add and subtract two and three digit numbers in his head, thanks to his passion for Pokemon cards (which are hugely motivating for reading too, by the way). And I know, I know, every parent says “I know every parent says their children are smart, but…” But, I feel pretty certain that I didn’t have any clue what multiplication was until it was introduced at school in the third grade. Sure, he used his fingers, and initially had the wrong answer, but I’m still impressed he knows the concept behind multiplication and figured out what seven groups of seven is. We definitely talk math when we can around the house, but we’ve certainly never sat him down and tried to teach him times tables.
So I do have to wonder, when he tells us he doesn’t enjoy school, could it be because learning to add and subtract numbers to 20 is just not interesting enough?