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9to5to9: Thomas, we’re counting on you

Submitted by on Tuesday, 18 November 2008 2 Comments

James plus Thomas equals Percy.

Edward plus Henry equals James.

Toby plus Thomas equals Duck.

And that’s as far as we’ve made it in number recognition, because we don’t have any Thomas and Friends engines beyond eight. OK, so technically that’s not true. We have Diesel 10, but we’re still missing No. 9.

Confession: It never would have occurred to me to use Boots’ favorite toys as teaching tools. It happened quite by accident. He’d see a figure somewhere and identify it as “Thomas’ number” or “Edward’s number.”

To which Big Guy or I would respond, “yes, that’s Thomas’s number, one” or “that’s Edward’s number, two.” When he’s not trying to bash his brother’s head in, Big Guy actually enjoys his role as teacher.

It’s worked well. Found out how well Saturday night when Big Guy was holding “school” and Boots nailed every number, one through eight” his brother threw at him. He hasn’t done nearly as well since, but I know the information is stored there somewhere in that little pumpkin head of his.

I like that it’s happened this way, because I won’t make a bug this little sit down and drill. And though Boots often will demand his “homeworks” every evening as Big Guy rants over his, I never would have started him on worksheets if he hadn’t asked.

I much prefer to sneak in tiny lessons during the day. He’s close to learning left from right simply by choosing which direction to turn on our walks home after dropping off Big Guy every morning.

Still, I’ve felt guilty about that learning by not learning approach since Big Guy started kindergarten and we found out he didn’t know as much as we thought he did. He’d memorized a ton of stuff — letters, numbers. But once things flew out of the expected sequence, he had trouble.

And it’s true that people learn what’s important to them, which is why I never mastered spreadsheets until I became commissioner of my fantasy baseball league back in the day before every third Web site would calculate stats for you.

Faced with the prospect of running numbers for 10 teams with 25 players each, I was a macro-writing, formula-mastering fool.

Clearly, Thomas is important to Boots. Until he decided last weekend that he wanted to be a cartoon monkey, he’d never play-acted another character. Thomas will forgive the dalliance. He knows who’s wheeshed into Boots’ heart.

I do worry, though, about long-term complications.

Kindergarten teacher: “Anyone know what 1 plus 5 equals?”

Boots: “Percy!”

Copyright 2008 Debra Legg. All rights reserved.

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  • T.H. said:

    Boy can I relate to this one. And believe me, my boy will be right next to him shouting the same! Who knew? :)

  • Debra said:

    See, that’s where I goofed up. I should have written a post about this brilliant new way to teach a preschooler his numbers. But I had to go and blow my mystique by admitting it was pure dumb luck.

    You’re right — who knew? :)