Thursday, February 13, 2014

Music, Movement, and Math

One of the best parts of working at PACT is being able to hear the small stories of success that get passed from Adviser to Adviser. They are evidence of our family's creativity, our parent teacher's hard work, and the growth we see in students everyday.

Last week, Mrs. Valdovinos shared the story of a young guitar player. Like most new guitar players, he did not put his fingers on the strings in the correct positions. Once he learned that placing his fingers in the correct position alters the pitch of the string’s sound, he took off! He could hardly stop playing. He learned to play songs on his own, far beyond what was taught in class.

His success and growing love for playing guitar was exciting for everyone to see, but what took place in the adviser meeting reinforced the idea that linking the arts or using physical movement has an impact on student learning (see “Stimulating Heads and Hearts with the Arts” from the February PACT newsletter here). During the meeting his Adviser asked him about his multiplication tables, something that he has had trouble with.  Instead of making him put down his guitar, his Adviser asked him multiplication problems while he played. The answers seemed to come easier while the student played, the change was unmistakable.

This reminded Ms. Kirsten of her own experience learning  multiplication tables.She was plagued by poor memorization skills. It was not until fourth grade when she started swimming laps in the pool that she finally learned them. To keep her mind busy, she recited them in her head as she swam lap after lap. Something about the rhythmic, physical movement of swimming and the quiet of the underwater world  proved successful.

Another first grade student found skip counting difficult to master until one day out of frustration by an active boy wiggling in his seat, his mom put him on their trampoline and told him to count. He struggled at first, but the normal frustration never came, his body and brain seemed too busy with the jumping and thinking to become angry. Besides, it wasn’t really math, right? He was on the trampoline.

There is research on play, music, physical activity, and learning. However, what these stories show is the power that we have as homeschooling families to explore and implement learning strategies on a daily basis that fit our individual kids.

1 comment:

  1. We learned skip counting by putting them to songs like Mary had a Little Lamb. My boys also liked to scooting up and down the stairs with math facts. They would scoot up one if correct and down one if wrong.