Monday, April 6, 2015

Brain dump

Reading, like a lot of things, is a cycle.  The more you read, the better you get at it.  And the better you get at it, the more you want to read.  M is stuck in the cycle, and for the most part, I'm ok with that.  When he's reading, he's learning, he's out of trouble, and he's happy.  The only thing that makes me hesitate is that instead of "everything evening out" now that he and his peers are getting older, he's just picking up speed.

So you're four, and you read the Franklin books while the other children page through them.  That's not such a big thing.  

But then you're five, and you're expected to review the letter of the week with all the others... every day... when all you want to do is get Charlie and the Chocolate Factory from your backpack and finish it in the bean bag over there. 

And then you're six and you're reading adventures, heroic tales of Greek gods, classics... being touched by poetry and stories of injustice... experiencing true literature...
While at school you have to sound out hen and pen, big and pig, and pat and rat.

What is seven going to be like?  Something tells me that's not going to be the year that "everything evens out" either.

I've hashed this all out before, worried about it, thrown up my hands and decided that all I can do is to wait and see.  So why am I going over it all again?  Because of L.

Because after he finished the K-2nd grade Khan Academy mission the other week, he wanted to keep going.  I figured, why not let him learn a few more skills?  He'll eventually get to the point where it's too hard and he'll just stop.  And I know eventually he will.  But he hasn't.  He's thrilled.  He's asks me to explain the things he doesn't understand, and he picks them up.  He's caught in that same cycle.  But it's going really fast, and I'm worried that in two weeks, I've just spoiled the next six years of math class for him.

He can multiply fractions and decimals, use and understand absolute value and negative numbers, divide fractions. Telling time, measurement, patterns, basic operations- basically all of elementary math is already behind him.  He's up to sixth and seventh grade topics now.  How far do I let him go? It feels like I should probably stop him pretty quick here.  No sense keeping it up, I mean why would a four year old need to know how to reduce and order fractions anyway?  Sorry, four-and-three-quarters. 

(And truly, just because he can do it doesn't mean he needs to move on. He's not a savant.  Yes, he can multiply -974 x 6.5, and get it right, but he would still use his fingers as he was doing it, to figure out seven times six.  So it's not like I'm saying I want to ship him off to Harvard.)

The thing is, I would never cut M off and stop him from reading books above his age level.  Not when they bring him so much joy.  Even if it does make school awkward.

So why would I do that for L and numbers?  I don't want to put words in his mouth, but it's starting to seem like they are to him what words are to M.   Thrilling.  Envigorating.  Worth waking up for in the morning. 

"You want to hear something cool?  I'm four, and double four is eight, and double eight is sixteen, and double sixteen is thirty-two.  And you're thirty two!"

So... Do I let him keep exploring, knowing that he won't even get to two digit addition with carrying at school for another two full years? Or do I put on the brakes?

Unfortunately,  I think there's not much choice.  The box has already been opened.  Even if I said no more Khan Academy, how could I stop this?

And would I want to?  He's entertaining himself with math offline.  That's good, right?

PS- I know.  I know!  It would be so much easier if they were excellent little swimmers or really great drawers or ukulele prodigies.  Then I could just straight up talk about their latest accomplishment without so much (internal) cringing and drama.  Being the parent of an atypically school-smart kid is complicated, I think.  At least to me.  

PPS- If you don't know me in real life, but read here, I have to say that I swear I don't talk about this stuff as much as I blog about it.  That's why I blog about it, actually, because it's not easy to talk about and I don't want to be "that mom."  Which means maybe I am turning into "that blogger", and that's ok, I guess.  

PPPS- But oh man, if you do know me in real life, let's just never talk about this.  Except if you secretly have a gifted kid and want to commiserate/bond!  Our code word can be hemorrhoids!  We can complain all we want and noone will be the wiser.

PPPPS- I slept on it before I posted and had a revelation in the morning.  I took him off the Arithmetic mission and put him on the third grade mission, instead.  He's just as happy, reviewing multiplication and fractions again and learning area and perimeter.. and it will buy me a few weeks. 

And mom, yes, I was worrying again.  Sorry.  But I am ok now!

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