On Getting Algebraic

mathematical formulasMy wife and I are homeschooling our kids and to be fair the lion’s share of the homeschooling falls on my wife, because she is there at home with the kids.  Along with nightly recaps of what they learned during the day, I try to do my best with the time, that I am with the kids, to engage learning opportunities when they present themselves.

Last night we had a perfect example of that kind of opportunity.

After dinner we sat around our little dinner table and were talking about birthdays.  My youngest is about to hit one month since his birthday so we decided to calculate how many months old we all are (incase you are wondering I am almost to 444 months old…). To do this we were doing some multiplication which is a little beyond what they have been formally taught, so we pulled out the whiteboard and did a little math together.

At one point when my youngest was asked “What is 4+0?” he answered “It is 3 +1.”

I let my wife finish the problem they were working on and then asked him to repeat his answer again which he did, and then I told him that what he had just done was the basics of Algebra, to which both kids looked a little surprised.  Then I showed the the equation he had made:

4+0 = 3+1

Then I showed them that the basic principle of algebra is to figure out which number is missing in an equation like that i.e.

4+x = 3+1

then for the next 10-15 minutes the kids took turns solving for “x” in a bunch of simple equations!

Afterwords my wife and told our youngest that any time someone tells him that he is not smart that he can hold on to this moment.  The moment as a 7yo he “discovered” the basics of algebra.

He tried to shrug it off, but you could tell by the twinkle in his eye, that he was pretty pleased with himself, as well he should be.

This moment is going to rank pretty high amongst my awesome parenting moments I just have to say.


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