calculating Daniel

Daniel is one calculating four-year-old. He knows his numbers … and he is a tad bit proud of what he can do compared to his younger sister, Anna, who is just beginning to tackle numbers.

She drew a perfect ‘8’ a couple weeks ago and earned a great deal of praise from her father.
Daniel, like any older sibling tried to put her in her place. “But, Anna, you can’t count by fives!”
“Yes, I can!” she replied, “Five-one, five-two, five-three…”

I read the story when I sneaked a peak at the weblog Tara (their mother) posts about her children. The changes and insights children have as toddlers, pre-schoolers and school children astounds me. I will read any friend or family member’s blog about children.

Last week I enjoyed reading about my grand-nephew Daniel who thinks mathematically.

According to his mother’s blog: “His idea of really great fun in the morning might be to work on some problems in a workbook, play with a calculator, find patterns of numbers that simply don’t exist or to note the time and exclaim delightedly, “It’s 12:13 right now!” He exhibits great excitement in creating a problem that will have an obvious solution and then finding the solution,” she blogged.

A lad who loves numbers! All right! Having a degree in mathematics myself, I welcome another family member whose mind thinks in numbers – even during Story Time at the library.

Recently, the story lady counted 18 children and 9 adults in the room.  “So that means there are twice as many children as adults!” Daniel observed. A quick calculation for a four-year-old even if his mother does teach him arithmetic at home.

“I like the workbook he’s using but it’s interesting how early one is taught to give the expected answer,” she noted.
“Fill in the circle for the correct answer.” “Solve the problems to show Sammy how to find his lost dog.”
She goes on to list a variety of games the book’s author uses to teach subtraction and borrowing a number.
In spite of the workbook rigidity he does not mindlessly give what’s expected.
One problem read, “Jamal wants to plant 25 daffodils. He bought 6 bags, each with 4 bulbs. Does he have the number he wants to plant?”
On the line provided, Daniel wrote, “Almost.”

Before he could began doing work book problems, he learned to read. Now he reads everything – including the book’s instructions to the teaching parent, “Note: You may need to help your child read the word problems.”
“He just thinks it gives more validity to the problems at hand,” Tara wrote, “And, he really cares how many eggs Sally will gather from how many chickens.”

Lately, his parents introduced him to the calculator.

“Today I caught him trying to complete a page by using the calculator. He had no thought of cheating, I realized. He was just enjoying a new way to multiply,” she wrote.

This calculating pre-schooler also figures time. Before a short trip, his mother announced, “So, we’re only going to be gone for half-an-hour.”

“Oh, so that means there’ll be twenty-three and a half left!” he responded.
Even meals catch the attention of this four-year-old Count Dracula. At the end of breakfast, he announced, “I just finished my cereal and I ate 57 pieces!”

Before a church dinner, Daniel watched his grandmother (my sister) set up for a church party. He heard her ask her helper to place 10 cups on each of the 10 tables.
“That’s 100 cups, Grandma,” Daniel noted.

Last week, she watched Daniel, his two sisters: Anna and Elizabeth and new baby brother Joshua. “We spent some time tossing duplo’s into their bucket – from different distances – worth various points. It was fun listening to Daniel add up by fours: 4, 8, 12, but then he counted on his fingers to 16.”

Okay, so he doesn’t have the full multiplication table memorized – he enjoys mathematics – a characteristic I consider beneficial to any child.