My Precocious Pupil

So….we are loving our Singapore math curriculum. To better prepare for our year, I spent the summer months working with the two older children on a review of third and first grade, respectively. If you have not used Singapore math from the beginning, jumping in midway, especially if you are wanting to begin “on level”, present challenges. It is an excellent math program, but it requires mental conception and thought that other curriculums, even highly rated ones, do not.  Our school had suggested the summer work, and I am glad we did it; it has made the transition into this year much easier.

Mostly easy, I should say. When one is working with a little boy whose brain likes to skip ahead, there are some challenges, as I saw today.  This morning, Jonathan and I began a unit on “Subtraction With Renaming”, that is, borrowing ten ones from the tens place to stick in the ones place, borrowing ten tens from the hundreds place to stick in the tens place, and so on. We looked at our first problem:

92 – 68 = ?

And before I could even say anything, my child did the subtraction in his head. Brilliant, but you still have to learn this renaming “thing”, Jonathan.

So, I began explaining the concept that since we cannot take 8 from 2, we must “borrow” ten ones from the 3 in the next place over. And Jonathan stops me once again, this time with an almost incredulous-sounding, “But Mom, you don’t need to rename the 2 at all!! Don’t you know: 2 minus 8 is negative 6?!?”



  1. Jay
    Oct 20, 2008

    Hey! I take credit for this! :-)

    Since we started doing the allowances, I’ve been having near-weekly discussions with the kids to settle accounts. And I’ve used negative numbers to refer to money they owe me at the end of the calculation, positive numbers mean they are owed money.

    More recently I’ve been having them do the math in their heads, including the negative numbers. Didn’t realize I was getting ahead of the math curriculum!

  2. Tricia
    Oct 20, 2008

    So YOU are the culprit!! I may just turn over math instruction to you if you keep messing with my students!!

  3. John
    Oct 20, 2008

    I think you need to probe to find if Jonathan retained the -6, then subtracted 60 from 90 to get 30, then did 30 – 6 = 24. If he put it together like that, he really does have deep understanding.

  4. Aunt Jamison
    Oct 21, 2008

    Okay, that is so funny! And that is the cutest picture of Jonathan I have ever seen. He’s the man!!