Thursday, November 01, 2007

Academic precocity

Back in June I wrote about Fiona's desire to start a formal math program. Shortly after that post I caved in and ordered her a new copy of Miquon Math. I'd used Miquon with my older kids, to a greater or lesser extent, and figured its playful, casual, "guided discovery" approach based on manipulatives would be a good fit for Fiona. Sophie had started Miquon at about the same age, and though she'd moved much more slowly through it than her older siblings had when they'd started at age 5.75 or 6, she'd enjoyed it and ended up with strong math skills.

So I didn't fret too much over Fiona's equally early start. The summer was upon us and we were all too busy with musical things to put much energy into math. So at first I thought she'd just putter through the first (Orange) book over the course of a year or so. But about a month ago, Fiona ramped up her math interest and fairly rollicked through the entire Orange Book. She's now well into the Red (second) Book and I'm beginning to wonder if she'll ever slow down. In the past couple of weeks she's made some big leaps in her understanding of place value and new concepts are falling into place quickly. Miquon is supposed to be a "conceptually advanced 1st through 3rd grade program" in that it introduces all four operations in the first year and progresses to things like algebraic-style problems, Pascal's triangle and cartesian co-ordinates over the next couple of years. Common wisdom cautions parents about starting their kids prior to the age of six, and suggests that they expect to move very slowly with five-year-olds. I've never been one to follow common wisdom, but I do try to take it into account as I find the right path for me and my children.

I thought I was past these worries, having dealt with various flavours of academic precocity
with my other kids over the years. Yet once again I find myself worrying about burnout and fundamental gaps and frustration. Should she really be moving into this material at her age? Isn't it too much too soon?

Trust, I remind myself. Trust the child. She wouldn't be eagerly devouring if it wasn't doing positive things for her. She knows what's right.

1 comment:

  1. Anonymous10:05 pm

    Fiona is clearly exceptional, both in terms of aptitude and motivation. She must be delightful to work with. She obviously thinks that you are! I'm sure that she will let you know if she gets in "over her head". Meanwhile, enjoy!



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