13 February 2008

Big and small, more and less

So trying to figure out Julia and numbers, a friend who is training to be a Montessori teacher reminded me that concrete should come before abstract and numbers are pretty abstract. She suggested to teach her more and less. So we tried to work on more and less tonight -- much too abstract. I switched to big and little -- and I see that she doesn't understand opposites. I know that she understands the concept of more and less or big and little on some level. Yes, she wants bigger piles of clay or toys, but she does not have some piece of the pie.. I just don't know what that piece is. She does not understand complete concepts or she does not really have the vocabulary. I am going to do more work on big and little and see where that gets us. It took her a long time to learn up and down, and open and closed. Does she have a problem learning concepts like these, or is she just without experience, or is it just language.

After I put her to bed tonight, I thought about the simple Sarah Boyton book called “Opposites” that we read to Cheshire when she was 1 or so. We had lots of books like that that we read to Cheshire. Julia does like more sophisticated books, but maybe she needs more of the simple ones. How hard for her to be without these basics.

The other suggestion that Janet has was to use Chinese numbers for counting. I am going to wait for a bit before I try it, but some of these concepts are somewhere in her brain. Could it be that it is hidden behind some Chinese, or that using Chinese is a key to translating some of these concepts. Maybe it is translation.

She is such a puzzle, my girl.


Bobbi Jo said...

Hmmm...Interesting thought about the numbers in Chinese. I've worked at several immersion schools and research has shown that students will always tend to count and figure numbers (in their heads) in their native language. It's not that they can't do it in English, but it seems to be programmed in their native tongue. I wonder if it just takes Julia a bit more to transfer from one to the other and then talk about it? Have you done any reading about raising bilingual kids? I know that Julia isn't still using her Mandarin much, but it might have some good information for you about processing and such. I'm assuming that the school just keeps telling you it's all about the language, which it might be, but it becomes an easy out for them to say this until it can't possibly be true any longer! I think you're on to something, good luck!

Elaine said...

Suzanne - My 6 year old, who is reading at 2nd grade level, is having a really hard time with more and less too. She seems to glaze over whenever we try to do her maths homework and it involves estimating rather than counting which has more and which has less, even though it is pretty obvious. Maybe it's just a hard concept for them to get in the abstract?
I think the idea of counting in Chinese might be good. And the Boynton books are just so much fun I'd read them to her for that alone!!!!