Monday, March 30, 2009

Teaching Rounding to a Kinetic Learner

With six children, our house is a house in motion. This is made even more true by the fact that our oldest son is very definitely a kinetic learner. Happily, learning at home is an extremely adaptable method of learning, and we have rarely had any problems accommodating his desire to move while learning.

I'll admit, there have been times when I've found it challenging to find a physical way to teach a certain concept. I was surprised, however, to find rounding to be one of the difficult concepts to teach to my mover. Even the language of rounding a number up or down, seemed to imply movement, and yet I hit a complete wall when trying to teach it to my son.

The problem was not so much with the rounding up, as it was with rounding down. No matter how many times we went over it, or how often I jumped his pencil on a number line, he always rounded down too far. For instance, if the number was 34, he'd round it to 20 instead of to 30. I could see his thinking. When you round up, the ten goes up, when you round down, it should go down. I simply couldn't get him around this thought. That is until I was able to make him the number moving up and down.

We have ten stairs in our house. I numbered papers from one to ten and placed them in ascending order on the stairs. I stood at the bottom and had my son move up and down the stairs. Sending him to the seventh stair, I asked him if it was closer for him to go on up to the top, or back down to the bottom. I reminded him that if he was halfway there, he might as well go on to the top. We continued working through rounding tens, hundreds and thousands.

I set out an additional ten papers, trailing away from the bottom of the stairs. His flawed thinking in rounding down became instantly clear to him. Within minutes he had learned a concept we'd been bashing our heads against for a week. He's never struggled with rounding again.

It's great to be a homeschooler!

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