December 19, 2010
Years ago, a friend was so excited about Arithmetic Village. That was wonderful, I love excitement about my projects. But then she suggested that I run a maths program for a bunch of four-year old boys. I politely declined. I did not create this program so younger children could understand math at a younger age. I created it so when children did start to learn math, that it was introduced in a different way, a more gentle way, a right-brained way. I created it because I wanted all children, not just Waldorf children who were introduced to lovely math gnomes, to experience math creatively.
I lean towards Waldorf educational philosophies, I love the seven-year cycles and homeschooled my children when they were younger to ensure they had a very non academic childhood. Free range children and unschooling are terms of which I am comfortable. I believe that the best way to raise smart children is to keep them outside and playing for as long as possible. I was not proud of my four-year old when she started writing at four, I was a bit worried a bit of her childhood had been lost.
Arithmetic Village has a broad age range. I broadened it after my first workshop. I now say the range is 5 to 9. I would like to say 7 to 10, but some people think that the books are too simple for that age. I think the simplicity is the beauty of the product. When I did hold workshops, I purposely had a group of older children come in to “help”. These helpers then went on to “fill in” gaps of their basic understanding of the math functions. I only put five as the start age, because the fact is, regardless of my educational philosophies, children in the western world have academics introduced to them around five. And if they are going to be introduced to the concepts, I’d prefer them to be introduced gently.
My four-year old has the books memorized, which is not surprising as they are in rhyme and short. This does not mean she has a conceptual understanding of the math functions any more than a two-year old who can sing the abc’s is ready to read.
There is no way to mandate a minimum age for purchase. I can only hope that common sense ensues and be grateful that Arithmetic Village is a calm, gentle entrance into academia.