If You Read Your Kids a Math Book… is a post about the importance of letting play unfold in your homeschool. I am also planning a series of posts highlighting how our family uses math picture books and play in our homeschool routine. Until then, I invite you to explore this post:
I’m continually awed by the learning that happens when I just relax and let it unfold when I allow my children to learn the way that they were born to learn: through books, play, movement, and hands-on exploration.
Take the other day, for example. It was one of those mornings when I had a list of must-dos for myself, must-dos that had been put off for far too long and that needed to be done ASAP.
You know the things you cannot ignore any longer.
It can be hard to balance all the things. I woke up on this particular day knowing it would be an off-balance sort of day.
Thankfully, the night before we had gone to the library and so, that morning, my little poppies’ library bags overfloweth with books begging to be read. I decided to start off the morning doing what I do best: reading to my kids. If I started with something that I was good at and knocked a homeschool must-do off the list in the process, perhaps I’d feel prepared- and less guilty- about tackling my own must-dos.
And not only did this strategy work, but we all ended up having a really fun day!
If You Read Your Kids a Math Book…
If you read your kids a math book…
… they will love the story so much that they will ask you to pause so that they can go grab some magnatiles. They will use those magnatiles to act out the story of a greedy triangle who wants more angles and sides. They will transform one shape into another into another until the book is over.
If you read your kids a math book… they will ask you to read another math book, and another, and another…
If you read your kids a math book… (Equal Schmequal), the kids will giggle at bear’s words. They will ask you to pause the book so that they can grab the play scale and colored counting bears from the playroom. As you read, they will reenact the story using the colored bears, pretending that the scale is the seesaw featured in the book. When the book ends, they will have a lively little discussion about the word equal and how its meaning changes depending on whether you are talking about math or fairness and justice.
If you read your kids a math book… (Lemonade in Winter: A Book About Two Kids Counting Money), the kids will pause the story to reminisce about the lemonade stand they had last summer. As you read, the children will be inspired by many ways to improve the lemonade stand this summer. When the book ends, everyone will be craving lemonade. Unfortunately, there is no lemonade in the fridge but you do have lemon tea…
… and so you’ll brew lemon tea and the kids will declare it to be poetry tea time. And you will smile because you realize it’s Tuesday and on Tuesdays you do have teatimes. They decide to pause math stories to make space for one of their current obsessions: Echo Echo: Reverso Poems About Greek Myths.
Once poetry tea time is over, your children will ask to read What’s the Place Value and all that talk of popsicles will give them yet another craving. You don’t have popsicles but you do have lunch and while you prepare it, your children will use popsicle sticks to make another fantastic cobra weave stick bomb. And they even clean up the wreckage!
Over lunch, you’ll read The Penny Pot and your children will pause the story to take turns counting the coins in the book. And all that counting coins will result in your daughter saying, wide-eyed, “So this is why skip counting is important! Counting money!” At the same time, your oldest will remark that the face painting in the book reminds him of the ochre hand stencils he made over the weekend with his ancient Australia History Unboxed. The kids will ask if they can use up the rest of the ochre spray after lunch. And you will oblige because it is now the afternoon and your must-dos are still calling.
And so, while the children make a happy mess, you’ll begin to tackle those must-dos. But here’s the interesting thing: you don’t feel as guilty as you normally do because you’ve witnessed a lot of learning in short time. And, because you started the day off with something you all love, everyone is happier and kinder to each other.
Best of all? You are more efficient. You rock those must-dos.
While you are rocking those must-dos, your children have moved on from art to outdoor time with boomerangs. Miraculously, you’ve managed to cover math, reading, poetry, physics, history, art, outdoor time, and play on a day that you woke up feeling overwhelmed by all the things.
And so, when your kids come inside asking if you can read The Penny Pot just one more time, you agree. You re-read the math book together. When you are finished, your children ask you if they can use face paint. They want to act out the book. And even though it’s now almost dinner time and you’ll need to scrub those faces in a couple hours, you say yes because learning happens all the time when you just relax and let it.
When you give your kids the face paint, they will set up a face painting stand and penny pot, just like in the book. They will go upstairs, to their piggy banks and find three different combinations of coins to make 50 cents, just like in the book. They will come back downstairs and count out their handfuls of coins, just like in the book. And then they will paint faces, outdoors, just like in the book.
And, when you give your kids some face paint, they’ll have a blast.
A photo posted by MyLittlePoppies (@my_little_poppies) on
And then they will come inside and ask to read more math books.
And, of course, you’ll say yes and read until dinner.
If you read your kids more math books, they will come up to you, just before bed, with a brand-new stack of books for the morning. Because they have collectively decided that they love hexagons.
If you read your kids a math book… is a perfect example of how children learn.
Children learn through reading and re-reading. They learn through play. They learn through hands-on exploration. They learn through movement and time spent outdoors, in nature. They learn when they create.
It is heartbreaking to me that, all too often, play is cut from our preschool and elementary programs.
I woke up on this day feeling completely overwhelmed by my must-dos. I honestly didn’t think I would be able to do both well: must-dos and homeschool. What I forgot was to trust the process and trust my children.
Do you want to add more awesome math resources to your homeschool day?
Now, it’s your turn. Tell me: When was the last time you relaxed and let learning happen? What adventures did you enjoy? What would happen if you read your kids a math book? Share here!
And, if you are interested in keeping math fun, be sure to check out these posts:
Cait co-hosts The Homeschool Sisters Podcast and is co-founder of Raising Poppies, a community for parents of gifted and twice-exceptional children. Cait is also founder of the Family Book Club at My Little Poppies, a fantastic community of book-loving parents and the Gameschool Community at My Little Poppies, a vibrant community of gameschoolers.
Cait is a contributing writer for Simple Homeschool. Her work has also appeared on The Huffington Post, The Mighty, Scary Mommy, GeekMom, and many others. You can find her on Facebook, Pinterest, Twitter, Instagram
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