Curriculum Review and Preschool Number Sense Game
Math is one of those subjects that some kids struggle with throughout their schooling careers; yet other kids seem to just “get” it. Are some children born with that magic math gene while others are doomed to eternal befuddlement? I don’t think so. With the right teaching techniques, math questions can be transformed from tricky, tangled perplexities to delightfully decodable puzzles. Professor B is a program that does just that.
How Not to Teach Math:
In order to understand how to teach math right, we have to understand where so many programs go wrong; my own experience as a homeschool student taught me this lesson. Discontented with the public school system, my mom started supplementing my math and reading at a young age, eventually pulling me out for full-time homeschool in grade three. It wasn’t until I returned to public school in grade six that I realized what a huge impact Professor B had made. While I had fun following the logical steps and sequence of solving math equations, many of my classmates couldn’t seem to figure it out. By grade eight, it had become apparent to me that several key fundamental mathematical concepts, which were so intuitive for me, had never quite sunk in for others.
It’s not that these students had an inferior ability to learn—they were the product of an overburdened system. Public school teachers don’t have the luxury of assessing each student’s personal comprehension, so tests results are often the only way to measure progression. Students learn to memorize and apply the necessary steps to reach the correct answer consistently, thus passing the tests, but this is often done without understanding the reasoning behind why the answers are correct. When kids continue to move on to more and more complicated equations without truly understanding the fundamental concepts upon which they are predicated, math becomes a monstrous mystery.
Professor B Review:
The key to long-term success in math is to build a strong foundation in the early grades, by focusing on number sense comprehension. Professor B accomplishes this goal magnificently by linking mathematical concepts together with contextual learning: i.e. by using the same cognitive patterns that children use to absorb their native language or retain narrative stories. Rather than memorising mathematical processes by rote, Professor B helps children discover key numerical concepts, then teaches them how to use those concepts to decode complex problems. Through this method, not only does arithmetic becomes easy—it actually makes sense at a fundamental, intuitive level.
Professor B is an amazing program, that does not get nearly the amount of attention it deserves in homeschooling circles. I’ll admit, I have not yet had an opportunity to use many (or any) of the most popular math curriculums that I see repeatedly recommended online, so I can’t make direct comparisons; however, I assure you that Professor B is a solid contender, and should be carefully considered when deciding the best fit for your family. Whether you are looking for a new approach to help your struggling child, or want to start your preschooler with a strong foundation, Professor B has value for you. For a few examples of how the program uses stories and real-life situations to make math simple, you can check out these video lessons on their website.
Preschool Math Fingers Game:
There is one more thing I LOVE about Professor B, which I am excited to share with you. I said before that I couldn’t make direct comparisons because I hadn’t looked at many other curriculums—that isn’t strictly true. I have done a lot of research into the various preschool learning resources available, and nothing I have found compares to what Professor B offers for pre-K learners. Most preschool math activities are focused on bright colors, fun themes, and (more than anything else)—counting. These might be good at keeping a toddler’s attention, but what they essentially come down to is teaching your child to memorize a series of unfamiliar words called “numbers” in a specific, yet arbitrary, sequence.
(Check out my post “Preschool Number Sense” to learn which simple math concepts beat out counting as the go-to way to create a strong foundation of numeric understanding for your little ones to build on.)
Proffesor B, on the other hand, uses the most simple and intuitive manipulative—fingers—to build quantity recognition skills, teach part-part-whole relationships, and introduce the significance of add-to-ten pairs… all within a game that you can start playing with your kids as soon as they know how to talk. And it just so happens, my friends, that the kind folks at Professor B Math have given me permission to share a summarised version of the game with you:
- Begin by holding up one finger, and show your child that “one finger” is “one finger” no matter which finger you hold up. Allow your child to experiment, holding up different versions of “one finger.”
- Once your child is comfortable recognizing and showing you one finger, introduce “two” by holding up different combinations of two fingers. Ask your child to copy your various versions of “two” then ask, “show me two fingers… show me a different two… and another,” and so on until your child can switch between different “two”s with ease.
- Now you can combine one and two for a fun guessing game: switch between flicking up various versions of one or two fingers, asking “how many?” each time. You can also play the “show me” game, asking your child to show you different versions of either one or two fingers.
- Once your child is able to consistently give correct responses to the guessing game and “show me” game using one and two fingers, you can introduce three. Follow the same process you did with two fingers: first show various combinations, then have your child match your finger positions, then ask to see different versions of three.
- Now you can play the guessing game and “show me” game with a mix of one, two, and three fingers. The goal is for your child to learn to recognize the visual difference between the numbers, so make sure to flick your fingers up then back down again, long enough to get a good look, but without giving time to count them.
- Continue the process with four fingers and five fingers (introduce, match, show me, mix into games). Remember to allow your child to become fully comfortable with each step before moving on, so that no feelings of overwhelm distract from the fun. Try to play in short intervals so your child never becomes bored or thinks of the game as a chore.
- Rather than moving on to six fingers once one to five are mastered, jump straight to ten and begin working backward. Large numbers are much more difficult to identify without counting, so from here on out you will teach your child that if most of the fingers are up, then he/she should look at how many are down. “Nine” is when one finger is down, “eight” is when two fingers are down, etc.
And there you have it. This simple game can be introduced as soon as your toddler can identify the difference between one and two. By the time all ten digits are in the mix, your child will have connected each of the number names with a physical quantity, built an understanding that small numbers combine to form bigger numbers, and laid the foundation for using add-to-ten pairs as a tool to solve higher addition down the road.
And all this is just within the first fourteen pages of the Professor B program. The rest of the curriculum builds on this foundation to create an intuitive number sense that will allow your child to decode math with confidence and success.
Thank you for reading. If you are interested in Professor B Math, you can learn more at their website, profb.com