Friday, November 19, 2010

Bike Riding (Physical Excellence Friday)


"Life is like riding a bicycle - in order to keep your balance, you must keep moving."   
-Albert Einstein
One of Hunter's favorite things.

And who can blame him?

Mom really loves it when he bike rides, too. Not only is it a great aerobic and general mobility activity, it is wonderful for vestibular (balance) stimulation and is also a cross-pattern activity, using both the left and right sides to peddle and steer simultaneously, strengthening the corpus callosum and general brain function.

Plus? It is just plain, good old-fashioned fun.


Physical Excellence Friday

"Thou liftest me up to the wind; thou causest me to ride upon it, and dissolvest my substance." 

Job 30:22


Hunter is 5 years, 8 months old

Wednesday, November 17, 2010

Little Man (No Comment)


"I will get me unto the great men, and will speak unto them; for they have known the way of the LORD..." 
Jeremiah 5:5
Hunter is 5 years, 8 months old

Friday, November 12, 2010

Brachiation Joy (Physical Excellence Friday)






Hunter loves brachiating.

Back and forth. Back and forth. Back and forth.

He could do this all day.

Too bad right now he can only do it at the park. But we're working on that, hopefully by Christmas, we will finally have one (a brachiation ladder) in our house again.

Because it's not only a really, really good upper body exercise. The cross pattern motion is good for your brain, too.


Physical Excellence Friday

"Therefore now let your hands be strengthened, and be ye valiant..." 
2 Samuel 2:7
Hunter is 5 years, 7 months old

Wednesday, November 10, 2010

No Comment: I Love You


"Be ye therefore followers of God, as dear children" 
Ephesians 5:1
Hunter is 5 years, 8 months old

Sunday, November 7, 2010

The Principles of Teaching Tiny Children


Glenn Doman proposes that you can teach a tiny child absolutely anything.

But how?

Most people would argue that a one-year-old is, by default, unteachable. A three year old, in the same manner, should not be taught, it is argued, for in order to do there would be a need to apply undue pressure.

But Glenn Doman begs to differ. He believes that the younger the child, the easier they are to teach. Scientifically speaking, he is right. The brain absorbs information at far greater ease and far greater speed at the tiniest of ages. The ability to absorb raw facts is, in fact, an inverse function of age. 

And as science is continuing to show, babies and tiny children not only absorb those great many facts, but they put them together in surprising and fascinating ways to form deductions, draw conclusions, and discover by experimentation the rules that govern them.

So how is it that you can teach a very tiny child?

Whether you want to teach your tiny child how to play the violin, speak Japanese, learn sign language, read, understand math, appreciate the arts or sciences, swim, do gymnastics, or whatever else you would like to teach him, these are Glenn Doman's principles for the teaching of tiny children:

1. Teach joyfully
You must approach the game of learning with the same abandonment and enthusiasm you would approach the game of patty cake or peek a boo. All children are drawn to joyousness. Your attitude towards a subject determines his. Never approach your teaching with soberness and seriousness. Learning is the greatest game you will play with your child: keep it as such. Present learning as a privilege he has earned: never, never as a chore.

2. Teach clearly
When we talk to tiny children, we naturally talk to them in a loud, clear voice. Teach your tiny child in such a voice and make your materials large and clear. Present the information in an honest, factual, and straightforward way. If you give a tiny child the facts, he will discover the rules that govern them.

3. Teach quickly
You must teach your tiny child quickly and briefly. He has much to do and can't stay in one place long. You must be content to teach him for only a few seconds at a time. That is all it takes. Present him with a set of information, and then come back to it later. When you teach in many ten- and fifteen-second sessions, you can accomplish more than you ever imagined possible.

4. Always leave him hungry for more
You must always, always, always stop before your child wants you to stop. Always stop before he wants to stop. Be sensitive to your child's attention and mood, and leave him hungry for more, every time, without fail.

5. Teach only at the best times
The key to teaching your tiny child is to only do so at the best possible times. Never try and teach him in a distracting, chaotic environment. Never try and teach him at a time when he is hungry, tired, or out of sorts. Never try and teach him when you are out of sorts. You must be ever-discerning of your child's temperament and mood and be willing to put your teaching away for the morning or day if needed.

6. Teach with consistency
If you are to be successful in teaching you must teach with consistently. If you child is to remain interested you must keep the ball rolling. Starting and stopping constantly will cause him to lose interest because he will believe the information you are bringing out again is old hat. Organize yourself to teach in such a way as to be able to remain consistent in your endeavors.

7. Teach new information
You will be surprised at how quickly your tiny child learns new information. Don't go over the same information over and over again when he already knows it. You must be keen to sense when he knows something, and regularly give him that which is fresh and new. 

8. Teach as a gift
We have come to equate teaching and testing as two sides of the same coin. You must forget this notion if you are to be successful in teaching your tiny child. Teaching is the process of giving information, as you would give a gift. Testing is asking for it back. Never test your child. It is essentially disrespectful and he will sense that you don't trust that he knows the information. If he learns that your teaching always has strings attached, he will push you and your teaching away. Learning is a gift, the most precious one you can give your child. Always remember that.


And lastly, Glenn Doman's fail-safe law is this:

If you're not having a great time and your child's not having a great time, stop. You are doing something wrong.


"Whom shall he teach knowledge? and whom shall he make to understand doctrine? them that are weaned from the milk, and drawn from the breasts. For precept must be upon precept, precept upon precept; line upon line, line upon line; here a little, and there a little:" 
Isaiah 28:9-10 
If you would like to learn more from the source, please see Doman's How to Multiply Your Baby's Intelligence 

Friday, November 5, 2010

My Unconventional List of Baby Supplies

My nephew, Jordan, at three months old,
gazing at a contrast board

Do you know what was the first baby thing I went out and bought when I found out I was pregnant?

Two large pieces of white foam board and a half dozen pieces of black poster board.

If you're a Doman parent you know exactly what I'm talking about.

If you're not I will just leave it as an inside joke for the moment. (hint: it has to do with the above picture)

Fast forward almost two months later, and I have finally finished scanning through my copy of How Smart is Your Baby? [the answer: very] I now have a shopping list of things to buy, make, or collect in preparation for baby's arrival.

The aforementioned Doman book is all about creating the ideal growth and development environment for your baby that helps them instead of hinders them. It is about intentional infant parenting practices, that recognize how to brain grows and caters to those ways on purpose rather than letting it happen by chance.

So, as such, my list of "baby supplies" includes strange things like black and white patterns for visual stimulation, a homemade crawling track, which is an ideal environment for tummy time and newborn mobility, a flashlight for developing pupil constrictions, and a wooden dowel for enforcing and growing the grasp reflex.

But, hey, what's wrong with a little unconventional?

So, my "nesting instinct" is filling my home with things like black, white, and brightly-colored poster board, large pictures, sound-making objects such as a xylophone and a triangle, grasping objects, fabrics of various textures, and flashlights.

I'm also working on making (some of) my own baby equipment. Instead of an exersaucer, bouncy seat, jumper, swing, play yard, walker, bassinette, and all the multiple other things that we contrive to contain babies in their pre-walking stage, we are going to simply have a (homemade) crawling track. And a floor. Much cheaper, and much better for baby's development. We might also have a sling for when the baby is being held.

For the bed, baby will most likely sleep with us (or sleep in the crawling track next to us) for the first couple months. Then I am thinking about devising some sort of Montessori floor bed with a mini brachiation ladder over it, for when the baby is a bit older, like we had here. Again, a little unconventional. But that's ok.

I'm actually really excited. About the new possibilities. The new understanding. The new adventure.

So, here's to the unconventional. 

Which just may be the new normal in 50 years.



"For the LORD giveth wisdom: out of his mouth cometh knowledge and understanding."



Proverbs 2:6

Baby #2 is 11 weeks, 1 day gestation

Wednesday, November 3, 2010

Our Adventures with Baby Sign Language

video
Hunter at 14 months, signing "please" and "ball" while simultaneous verbalizing "ball"

I look back and our journey with baby sign language with great fondness and appreciation.

It was long before we heard about Doman, or many of the other early learning topics I now am familiar with, but it nonetheless found its way into our lives in an unexpected way and I now can't imagine how his early toddlerhood would have been without it.

Before Hunter was born and during his early infancy, I had never heard of the concept as this was back in 2005 and in the very beginning of the "trend". When Hunter was four months old, with my mom's prompting I ordered the book Baby Signs: How to Talk with Your Baby Before Your Baby Can Talk from a catalog.

How thrilled I was for the exciting possibilities!

At five months I started teaching him some sign language. I don't remember how many signs I tried to teach him in the beginning, but at seven months I was ecstatic when he finally reproduced his first sign:
more.



Thereafter, he discovered the power of this type of communication and began using the sign "more" for pretty much everything. It seemed like the sign evolved to mean "I want" more than its actual definition.

Perhaps because of the versatility of this sign, he didn't mimic any more signs for what seemed like an eternity. Until finally, at eleven months old, he had some sort of signing breakthrough.


Within a month, he learned to sign "all done," "eat," "drink," "hot," "up," (his was slightly different) and "night night."

At twelve months he learned the ever-popular "please," followed by "hair brush", "phone", "toothbrush," and "hat".

By thirteen and fourteen months he learned "down," "come," "thank you," "water," "book," and "bath," followed by "milk," "dog," "ball," "outside," and "Cheerios" (which he made up - would pinch his thumb and forefinger together).


And then, it seemed like just as soon as our signing adventure had begun, it was over.

At fifteen months he began talking a great deal - within that month he learned to say almost two dozen words, whereas before he could only say a handful. He still used sign language, and that month picked up the new signs of "yes", "car", and, some things I never got a chance to get a picture of - "no", "hair", "listen", "headphones", and "iPod" (yes, he made up the sign for iPod too - it involved him sticking his forefinger and thumb in both ears as if he were putting in earbuds).

Then, the next month, he started really talking. In fact, even to a mother who had religiously written down every single possible milestone since he was born, from "first visit to the mall" to "first bandaid" to, well, pretty much everything, he had me beaten. He was learning to say new words at a rate that even I couldn't keep up with, and things just set off from there.

And that was about it.

For a long time he continued to often use his signs along with the spoken words, as you can see in the above video of him signing and saying "ball" and "please". In fact, certain signs, such as please, stuck with him until he was probably two and a half - he would always rub his stomach while saying "please"! But from that point on, he didn't really learn any new signs, simply because he could pretty much say everything verbally, and preferred communicating that way. And in spite of my intention to keep them in our life (as sort of a foreign language experience), they ended up falling by the wayside and fading into the past.

I was definitely surprised, and a little bit saddened, when it ended so soon. I had so many signs that I wanted to teach him, and it was all so much fun! But the experience definitely enriched our lives, and as I said, I couldn't imagine his early toddlerhood without it.

Giving him the tools to communicate without whining was so incredibly priceless. He could say if he wanted up or down, if he was thirsty, if he was tired, if he wanted to go outside, even talk to me about what he saw or wanted, such as a ball or the dog. It's so hard to imagine how this period of life would have gone without him having these tools, and thankfully I don't have to.

And even though it was hard to see it go, it served its purpose, and that's what counts.

Looking beyond the temporary benefits of tools of communication, another thing I am thankful for is the benefit it served him for the rest of his lifetime. As this study showed,

Results of the study revealed that 24-month-old babies using baby sign language were on average talking more like 27- or 28-month-olds, representing more than a three-month advantage over the non-signers. The babies using baby sign language were also putting together significantly longer sentences. In addition, 36-month-old signers on average were talking like 47-month-olds, putting them almost a full year ahead of their average age mates. At 8 years, those who had used sign language as babies scored an average of 12 points higher in IQ on the WISC-III than their non-signing peers.

That is another reason I look so fondly on it, as it was one of our first "early learning" endeavors. And I know that even just in that short time period, it gave him a boost for the rest of his life.

It was definitely a fun adventure.

It didn't always go as expected. It ended a lot sooner than I thought it would. He started talking a lot earlier than I was prepared for. He surprised me by making up his own signs, or by his funny interpretations of the signs I taught him. He never did sign a lot of words I taught him for months, such as "mom" or "help." He even did something I never anticipated, and started signing in two- and three-word sentences, such as "drink water please".

But all in all, isn't that how all parenting tends to go? Not exactly how we expected?

I'm very thankful to have had this wonderful chance to learn together with my baby. And I can't wait to start with the next one!


"And it shall be for a sign unto thee upon thine hand..." 
Exodus 13:9

What about you? What was your experience with baby signs?

Tuesday, November 2, 2010

Sir Ken Robinson - Changing Paradigms in Education


Fascinating highlights from Sir Ken Robinson's talk when he was awarded the Benjamin Franklin Medal by the Royal Society of Arts in London last year.

I love all of his talks and the way he thinks.

The full one-hour talk can be viewed here.
"Though I walk in the midst of trouble, thou wilt revive me: thou shalt stretch forth thine hand against the wrath of mine enemies, and thy right hand shall save me." 
Psalm 138:7

Monday, November 1, 2010

Doman Quote of the Month: The Land of Knowledge

"At this moment there is a world - a world of great beauty, of great truth, an enchanting, beguiling, thrilling, bewitching, and enriching world of facts - out there in fact land. It is a land of great riches. There are riches for the soul, there are riches for the spirit, there are riches for science. It is a land beyond imagining, but strangely it is very uncrowded. It is crowded only in spots. There are lots of artists looking at great paintings, and there are lots of musicians listening to orchestras, and there are lots of scientists looking at space shuttles, and there are lots of doctors looking at hearts, and there are lots of mathematicians looking at numbers, but very, very few people are seeing it all... They're a group called "Genius"... True geniuses have always been few in number and immensely curious about everything."
Glenn Doman
How to Give Your Baby Encyclopedic Knowledge

Sunday, October 31, 2010

Fall Poetry

The closest we got to a jack-o-lantern 

Hunter and I have long enjoyed poetry together, although I realized that I don't often write about it on my blog.

We have been reading some fall poetry lately. Even though we don't get fall here. It is perpetual summer until November and then, around December the leaves will turn brown and fall off. Yes, brown.

But maybe the poetry keeps us closer to home, so at least we can enjoy autumn in our imaginations.



WHEN THE FROST IS ON THE PUNKIN
by James Whitcomb Riley (1849-1916)

When the frost is on the punkin and the fodder’s in the shock,
And you hear the kyouck and gobble of the struttin’ turkey-cock,
And the clackin’ of the guineys, and the cluckin’ of the hens,
And the rooster’s hallylooyer as he tiptoes on the fence;
O, it’s then’s the times a feller is a-feelin’ at his best,
With the risin’ sun to greet him from a night of peaceful rest,
As he leaves the house, bareheaded, and goes out to feed the stock,
When the frost is on the punkin and the fodder’s in the shock.

They’s something kindo’ harty-like about the atmusfere
When the heat of summer’s over and the coolin’ fall is here–
Of course we miss the flowers, and the blossums on the trees,
And the mumble of the hummin’-birds and buzzin’ of the bees;
But the air’s so appetizin’; and the landscape through the haze
Of a crisp and sunny morning of the airly autumn days
Is a pictur’ that no painter has the colorin’ to mock–
When the frost is on the punkin and the fodder’s in the shock.

The husky, rusty russel of the tossels of the corn,
And the raspin’ of the tangled leaves, as golden as the morn;
The stubble in the furries–kindo’ lonesome-like, but still
A-preachin’ sermuns to us of the barns they growed to fill;
The strawstack in the medder, and the reaper in the shed;
The hosses in theyr stalls below–the clover over-head!–
O, it sets my hart a-clickin’ like the tickin’ of a clock,
When the frost is on the punkin and the fodder’s in the shock!

Then your apples all is gethered, and the ones a feller keeps
Is poured around the celler-floor in red and yeller heaps;
And your cider-makin’ ‘s over, and your wimmern-folks is through
With their mince and apple-butter, and theyr souse and saussage, too! …
I don’t know how to tell it–but ef sich a thing could be
As the Angels wantin’ boardin’, and they’d call around on me–
I’d want to ‘commodate ‘em–all the whole-indurin’ flock–
When the frost is on the punkin and the fodder’s in the shock!

"O worship the LORD in the beauty of holiness: fear before him, all the earth." 
Psalm 96:9
Hunter is 5 years, 7 months old 

Friday, October 29, 2010

Hello, World


"I was cast upon thee from the womb: thou art my God from my mother's belly." 
Psalm 22:10
Baby #2, in picture, was nine weeks, one day gestation

Wednesday, October 20, 2010

No Comment: Scoring First Soccer Goal


"...forgetting those things which are behind, and reaching forth unto those things which are before, I press toward the mark for the prize of the high calling of God in Christ Jesus." 
Philippians 3:13-1
Hunter is 5 years, 7 months old 

Sunday, October 17, 2010

Catching the Math Bug

"Remember that this is accelerated learning and when children catch the math bug, let them indulge it! That is the goal of the program." 
Dr. Jones,  Jones Geniuses Accelerated Education

Why does Hunter have such a big, exuberant, giddy smile on his face in this picture, you ask?

Because he just finished doing almost a hundred addition equations, of course!

Hunter is really starting to love his daily practice sheets in his Math Three Super-Math curriculum. His ridiculously enthusiastic smile in this picture happens to be because he couldn't stop laughing through this whole Factsmaster sheet because he is beating his previous time.

The goal is to be able to do all 100 equations in under five minutes, with a perfect score (it's three minutes for teens and up). The worksheets are different each day, so you're not just memorizing the order.

And once he beats that five-minute mark? He gets his Factsmaster ribbon, for that subject (addition, subtraction, multiplication or division). Which he is uber excited about, to say the least.

Some of the topics coming up in his Math Three program, include borrowing and carrying, times tables up to 100, advanced auditory memory training, proper and improper fractions, powers and roots, long division and multiplication, decimal fractions and percents, and, well, a ton of other stuff.

Mom is a little bit intimidated.

But I'm just going to have faith in my child that kids are far more capable than we give them credit for. And, besides. How hard can it be if he's caught the math bug?

See my review of their Math One program here. A full review on Math Three will be coming soon!

"Take ye the sum of all the congregation of the children of Israel... thou and Aaron shall number them..." 
Numbers 1:2-3
Mathematical Mondayr


Hunter is 5 years, 7 months old



I'm linking this post up here.

Friday, October 15, 2010

Making the Jump to Reading Fluency


I took another video of Hunter reading the a couple days ago. Here he is, reading Curious George Feeds the Animals, a library book, for the first time.

He has all of the sudden made that jump from reading word-by-word to reading sentence-by-sentence. He actually reads, most books, almost as fluently as you or I.

I'm not quite sure how it happened. And it's always nice, for myself at least, when I can document each step of the way, and measure how much my son knows and how much he doesn't know. But really, he has thrown me through a loop. All of the sudden he's figured out all these phonics rules that I never got around to teaching him and, well, just, reads.

"And that ye may teach the children of Israel all the statutes which the LORD hath spoken unto them by the hand of Moses." 
Leviticus 10:11
Hunter is 5 years, 6 months old

Some past videos I've posted of his reading updates:

Reading Bob Books - (14 months ago)
Reading Phonics Lesson Book - (10 months ago)
Reading a "In the City and on the Farm" - (3 months ago)

Thursday, October 14, 2010

Prenatal Stress... and Babies with Sleep Problems?

Hunter, sleeping at age one

A recent interest of mine (for pretty apparent reasons) has been the whole body of research behind the idea of fetal origins. That is, how research continues to show just how much life in the womb can effect pretty much the entire rest of your life (especially when it comes to health), often in surprising and substantial ways.

One such way is the link between prenatal stress and sleep problems when the child is a baby and toddler.

From this study:
"...children born to mothers who were depressed or anxious during pregnancy experienced more sleep problems. For instance, mothers classified as clinically anxious 18 weeks into pregnancy, compared to their non-anxious counterparts, were about 40 percent more likely to have an 18-month-old who refused to go to bed, woke early, and kept crawling out of bed. The child’s rocky relationship with sleep often persisted until he or she was 30 months old."

The connection continued even after controlling for multiple other influences. Forty percent is a pretty big number, don't you think?

And sleep, as I've been recently discovering by the available research, is really important for little kids.
"...sleep ranks as one of the most highly regarded indexes of healthy development, and plays a critical role in consolidating memory and facilitating learning, regulating metabolism and appetite, promoting good moods and sustaining both cardiovascular health and a vigorous immune function."

They also hypothesized that the poor-sleep connection may also have something to do with why "mood-disturbed" pregnancies are often related to children with "behavioral disorders, like depression, hyperactivity and anxiety"
"It remains to be seen if the sleep problems we witnessed may play an active, causal role in priming the path for these children’s emotional and cognitive problems in later life [listed above], or if both conditions merely fall out of the same stressful pregnancies."

You can read the full story and the details of the study here.

Maybe it's time I quit stressing about my stress level, don't you think?

"The LORD will give strength unto his people; the LORD will bless his people with peace." 
Psalm 29:11

Baby #2 is 8 weeks, 0 days gestation

Monday, October 11, 2010

Rush Hour Game and Building Thinking Skills

Playing "Traffic Jam" android application
Before we moved to California, Hunter, at four, loved "playing" my mom's Rush Hour game from ThinkFun.

In the actual game, you have to set up the variously-colored cars, trucks, and eighteen-wheelers on a sliding grid, according to the puzzle you're trying to solve. The vehicles get set up in a mix-match of horizontal and vertical arrangements, and the goal is to slide the other vehicles out of the way in order to get the red car out the exit.

Sounds simple, but it's not always so easy, and can take some careful planning, seeing the bigger picture, and lots of trial and error to get through the often multiple steps necessary to free your little red car.

We were both so excited when we found a generic version of the game ("Traffic Jam") as a free android app under "Brain & Puzzle" in the games section of the marketplace. It's also available for iPhone for $2.99.

According to the editorial description on Amazon, Rush Hour has received a national award from Mensa and has been used in elementary school math classes. And I can see why.

Hunter has so far made his way through dozens of puzzles and has fallen in love with the game. It's not exactly my cup of tea (I'm easily frustrated with puzzles and brain teasers) but Hunter really seems to enjoy it.

And the nice thing about having it on my phone? (for free, no less) Definitely being able to play it anytime, anywhere, and playing something productive and fun. Beats Super Mario or Pac Man any day, in my book.

This post is linked up here.

Cell phones sure have changed a lot in Hunter's
little lifetime, don't you think?
"Think upon me, my God, for good, according to all that I have done for this people." 
Nehemiah 5:19
Mathematical Mondayr






Hunter is 5 years, 6 months old 




Monday, September 27, 2010

Analog Time Telling


Hunter got his first watch a couple of years ago, when he was three and a half. It was an old, leather-strapped analog watch that was making its way to donations after months in a lost and found before we snatched it.

He loved that watch, and used to show it off to everyone with pride, who would usually ask him if he could actually read the thing. I will have to admit it was a humous sight seeing a little three-year-old totting around with a full-sized man's watch on his wrist.

After a few months the watch broke, and for some reason we never invested in getting a new one.

I think Hunter must be equally excited about his new $9 watch from Wal-mart as he was about his lost-and-found watch two years ago. He is infinitely prideful of it and it has become the covet of many little neighborhood boys. Who knew?

I still remember my first watch, perhaps when I was eight or nine, that my mom gave me when we were at a family church camp. It was analog (versus digital), which I'm sure had a double purpose of both helping me to return to the room on time as well as to teach me how to effortlessly read a "real" clock. My mom was cool like that.

So therein lies my "hidden purposes" in intentionally buying Hunter an analog watch, which he currently thinks is just about the coolest toy there is and loves reading what time it is. I want to improve on his time-telling skills, since, even though he learned it years ago, he has since become a little rusty, since we unfortunately have nothing but digital clocks in the house.

And secondly, to teach him time management, hopefully being able to tell him to come inside from the playground at such-and-such time, or to be ready to go at this time, and so forth.

Thirdly, to become more aware of what time of day it is, since often he seems quite oblivious, at least, internally (I could tell you that "It is probably around 2:00 or 3:00 ish" even if I haven't looked at a clock in hours, but Hunter, not so much).

Lesson learned? Don't wait two years to buy a new one when this one breaks!



"Yea, the stork in the heaven knoweth her appointed times; and the turtle and the crane and the swallow observe the time of their coming; but my people know not the judgment of the LORD."


Jeremiah 8:7

Hunter is 5 years, 6 months old

Sunday, September 26, 2010

Jones Geniuses Matrix Math® Review (ages 2-6)

A simple Matrix Math® practice sheet
"Any fool can make things bigger, more complex, and more violent. It takes a touch of genius - and a lot of courage - to move in the opposite direction." 
Albert Einstein
A couple of weeks ago, Dr. Jones from Jones Geniuses Accelerated Education sent me his Early Learning Kit for review.

The Early Learning Kit has both a reading and math curriculum (Threshold to Reading® and Matrix Math®), but for the purpose of this post I will only be discussing the Matrix Math portion. (Please stay tuned for upcoming Threshold to Reading® review).

What It Is

The Matrix Math® is the first (Level One) program in the Jones Geniuses' math curriculum. Jones Geniuses math programs cover basic to advanced arithmetic and number concepts all the way up to algebra and geometry, and does so on a level far exceeding most traditional math programs. Jones Geniuses Math Programs are intended to advance students approximately four times faster than traditional math education, while at the same time utilizing advanced standards and techniques (such as rapid calculation with large numbers and difficult operations, systems for instantly memorizing long lists of numbers, and so on). (See our introduction to the company here)

Matrix Math®, the first level program, focuses primarily on introduction to number concepts, addition, and subtraction, by the use of a special "dot matrix". The program is geared toward 2-6 year old children, although it could possibly be adapted for older or younger students depending on ability. Matrix Math covers:
  • Numbers (actual quantities)
  • Numerals and numeral writing (symbols for numbers) 0-9 and above 
  • Counting forwards and backwards (one-to-one correspondence) to 20, then to 100
  • Greater than and less than concepts
  • Addition and subtraction skills with numbers 0-20

How it works 
Hunter practicing the placement of the dot matrix 
ma·trix [mey-triks] -noun 
1. something that constitutes the place or point from which something else originates, takes form, or develops

The foundation of the Matrix Math program is the dot matrix. The dot matrix is a simple yet ingenious system of intentionally placed dots within numerals, that teaches children the actual quantities behind the abstract symbols. The numeral 7 has seven dots in it, the numeral 9 has nine, you get the picture.

These simple dot-numeral hybrids are used to teach children quantities and numerals
at the same time and as the same thing, counting, greater than and less than comparison, how to write numerals, and, most importantly, addition and subtraction.

You may have seen (
or heard of) the idea of placing dots inside of numerals to teach small children the realities behind the symbols, such as this example here. But herein lies the uniqueness of the Jones Geniuses dot matrix system:

  • The dots within the dot matrix are intentionally and logically placed, for the purpose of memorization. For example, every circle contains four dots, and every long line contains either three or five dots.
  • The dot matrix is used to teach addition and subtraction with dot matrix based manipulatives and worksheets. Children count the dots, starting at the larger number (instead of starting all the way at one) and then count up (or down, in subtraction) as they touch each dot within the smaller number. For example, "8" is touched and named in 8+4, then the child touches each dot in the "4" as he counts up from 8, reaching the final answer, 12.
  • The dots are counted in a specific order, so children learn not to double-count (or skip) dots on accident.
  • The dots are made to be memorized. Initially, children practice addition and subtraction with these "special" numerals, but the purpose of the program is to memorize the placement of the dots so that they can be used as aids in regularly-written numerals, even when they're not there. This is taught by writing dots inside of blank numerals (see picture above) in daily exercises, exactly and precisely, so children quickly move from "matrix" equations to regular equations, using their pencil to count imaginary dots in each numeral.
  • The dot matrix, once memorized, can be used throughout the child's life, since our's is a 0-9 based numeral system. It can be used for larger numbers, such as 173+285, and also can be used in multiplication and division, for example counting by threes while touching the dots in the "9" of 9x3. These skills are taught in future levels.

Our Experience with the Program
Hunter, as you probably already know, was a little bit "past" this level in most senses, as he could already count, understand quantities, greater than and less than, write numerals, and so on. But nonetheless, I think he highly benefited from the use of the program and by learning this amazingly clever dot matrix tool!

As you might know, we have had an interesting and sometimes perplexing road after using Glenn Doman's How to Teach Your Baby Math program over three years ago. I would do the program again in a heartbeat, and Hunter has often times amazed me with his mathematical abilities, including being able to instantly solve large equations without counting, fill in the blanks in algebra equations, effortlessly grasp concepts, and so on. But his ability to solve answers visually (with aids) never translated into being able to solve answers auditorily, or even on paper.

This program has been an amazing "next step" for us, and after quite a while of not doing very much math since we didn't know
what to do or how to go about things, Hunter is once again excelling (and I can't wait to see what the next levels have in store for us!) After just a little over a week of daily working on the program, he had memorized the dot matrix exactly and was able to graduate to their numeral-only equations, and is flying through them!

Why it is Accelerated (and better) 
There are a lot of things that I enjoyed about this program, but the main benefit is that it is clear, understandable, and accelerated. Accelerated does not just mean that you go through the same material faster - it means you go through the same material better!

It does this by:

1. Streamlining and simplifying, doing away with "crutches" such as counting on fingers or with beads. It gives kids a useful, efficient, long-term, and easier tool that they don't have to be painfully weaned off of!

2. Skipping the "start counting from one" step for addition, teaching kids from the beginning to begin the equation by counting from the bigger number, which is much more efficient and common sense.

3. Teaching addition and subtraction as inverses, doing away with the all-too-common problem of children who are strong in addition and weak in subtraction (because kids always count forwards but rarely count backwards). They teach you to count backwards with your child every time you count forwards, and every math session is composed of equal attention to both addition and subtraction. This makes for children who are not only strong from the start in both essential skills but understand the concepts better since concepts are most easily understood as contrasting opposites.

4. Teaching a speedy method of computation, since, as every phonics teacher knows, speed produces comprehension. If it takes a child five minutes to "sound out" the sentence "the car is driving fast", the child won't understand what he just "read". The language of mathematics is the same way, and by using the quick and efficient tool of the dot matrix, children are able to better understand and retain the information, not just "going through the motions" without truly internalizing what is happening. Speed also complements memorization and helps children to be able to instantly solve equations, faster, sooner.

5. Instilling confidence by helping children succeed, and therefore, keep going and keep learning, doing away with the unfortunately all-too-common math phobia. When you're not good at something, you avoid it. When you are good at something, you're drawn to it. A motivated child will excel for the love of the subject.

Pros:
  • Logical, thorough, accelerated - The program is, I believe, a beautifully-designed, well thought-out, thorough program, saving you and your child time, money, and frustration, while producing excellent mathematicians. What better pro could there be than that?
  • Early start - The program is simple enough to begin as soon as your child can talk, usually around age two, since math is a language just as is English, and the program is designed to emphasize such.
  • Easy to understand - The curriculum is well-organized and easy to understand.  The DVD and instruction manual explain each step carefully and clearly, making it simple and straightforward for the parent.
  • Individualization - All the programs are not age-based but skill-based, doing away with the "one size fits all" mindset found in most math curriculum.
  • Excellence in education and attention to detail - High expectations, true mastery, and precision are core character traits incorporated into the program, which are taught gently and joyfully to small children early on.
  • The belief in joyful and early teaching - Just like Doman, Dr. Jones believes learning should be joyful, fun, and gentle for the child.
  • Wonderful customer service - So far, all my dealings with the company have been wonderful, including quick responses to emails, friendly, in-person phone consultations (for free) and extremely quick shipping.
  • Non-profit company - Always a plus, Jones Geniuses Accelerated Education is a not-for-profit company.
  • Reasonable price - Less expensive than most other math curriculums, yet delivers so much more!

Cons:
  • Sturdiness of materials - The materials are printed on regular computer paper (posters, reproducible worksheets) or plain card stock (flash cards). This was a con for me because they are somewhat fragile and not "kid proof". This was easily solvable with some simple lamination, though, so nothing big here.
  • Print quality - Overall, I think the print quality was fine, but there were a few instances (perhaps 2-3) where the material's printing was "off center", making it difficult to complete the worksheet. I'm sure this was just an individual printing mistake and not present in every program, though.
  • Website description - This is not a con with the program itself, but rather for prospective buyers. I would have liked to see a more complete and comprehensive package description easily accessible on the website of what all is included, further details about the program and its implementation, and better pictures of the individual items before making the choice to purchase. With what an amazing program it is, I just don't think the site does it justice.

What is Included in the Program
Included materials (click to enlarge)
1. A fifty-minute instructional DVD (for the parent) that carefully covers each step of the program, early learning philosophies and teaching, how to use the materials, child demonstrations, and more.
2. A 36-page instruction manual (for parent) with an introduction to accelerated education, early learning and brain development, how to implement each step of the program, suggested activities, how to motivate your child, parent's perspective, and more.
3. Eleven 11x17" posters, including blank number lines (up to 100), dot matrix number lines and dot-placement posters, number-letter memory association graph, Matrix Math steps, worksheet challenge progression, and addition and subtraction demonstrations.
4. A 34-page How the Numbers Made Friends with the Letters storybook, which introduces children to the number-picture associations that are used in later levels for advanced memory techniques.
5. 0-9 Matrix manipulatives and operator symbols (+, -, =), which are 8x5.5" flash cards that are used for teaching counting, greater and less than, and initial addition and subtraction.
6. Seventy-one 8x11" reproducible, leveled worksheets, which gradually and gently progress children from doing 4 extra-large print, dot-matrix-based addition and subtraction equations per session to 100 small print, regular-numeral addition and subtraction equations per session (65 pages), as well as dot-matrix fill-in-the-blank and numeral writing worksheets (6 pages).
7. Beautiful, gold-lettered award ribbon for being a "Matrix Master" after graduation from the program

Matrix Math can be purchased individually (special order) for $100 plus tax from Jones Geniuses Accelerated Education, or together with Threshold to Reading for $160.00 (a 20% discount) when you buy the Early Learning Kit.

Jones Geniuses Accelerated Education sent us an Early Learning Kit to facilitate this review. All opinions expressed are my own and I was not otherwise compensated for this review.

Hunter, at time of using the kit, was 5 years, 5 months old