“Do I go to music class and swim class today?”
“No, today is Monday. Remember, I said you go to work for 5 days before you go to music class and swim class.” I hold up my fingers one by one as I call out, “Monday, Tuesday, Wednesday, Thursday, Friday.”
I put down all five fingers and continue, “So far we went to work on Monday and we’ll go today on Tuesday.” I put those two fingers back up as I talk.
Without skipping a beat she says, “Three more days! Today it will be 3, and then 2, and then 1.”
This was completely unexpected and so fascinating to hear! If only I hadn’t been in the middle of rushing to get dressed and ready to walk out the door to work. Looking back, I would have loved to ask, “How did you know there are three days left?”
In thinking about this conversation throughout the day, I’ve thought about all the play we’ve done with counting over the past several months. Fingers are a favorite of mine since they’re always close at hand.
In the car, one of the games we’ll play is that I hold up some number of fingers at my chest and ask, “Guess how many fingers I’m holding up.” She makes a guess and then I hold them up so she can see if she got it right. Nothing fancy, but it gives her a lot of opportunities to count and see quantities from 1 to 5.
Another game I like to play is, “Do you want me to show you 5 really fast?” She says, “Yes.” I put my hand behind my back and say, “Ready, set, go!” And then I whip out my hand with all my fingers out. She counts my fingers every time to prove there are 5 fingers, but I’m beginning to wonder if the counting is really necessary.
So I’m curious about how she knew it was 3 days until Saturday. The way I held my hand, she couldn’t see the three fingers that were down. Did she see them in her mind? Did she subitize? Did she count one by one super fast? There was hardly a heartbeat between what I said and her response. The counting back from 3 was really fast also.
Things to explore as we talk more.
I love being a parent and getting to have these kinds of conversations with my daughter. When she surprises me with a new understanding or insight, it’s like a wonderful gift. I treasure each and every one.
(Side note: Her Montessori school calls their learning time “work periods” so we’ve been calling it “going to work” since she started there a year ago. She likes the idea that she goes to work everyday like Daddy and Papa do. If I accidentally say something about going to school she’ll usually correct me, “No, I go to work!”)
[UPDATE 10/5/2016] This morning she asked a question she asks pretty much everyday without fail, “Is today a work day?”
“What did I say when you asked me last night?”
“It is a work day.”
I go back to eating my breakfast.
“We went on this day and this day, and this is today.” I look over and she’s holding up three fingers in front of her face. She’s grabbing the tip of her middle finger as she’s saying that this is today. She tells herself, “There’s two days left!”
Clearly our conversation yesterday wasn’t a fluke! She wasn’t even talking to me at the end. She was talking it out and making the observation all to herself. How cool!
A little later she’s in the kitchen and I ask her, “Can you show me how many workdays we’ve had on the Math Rack?” (By the way, we’ve had fun counting on the Math Rack, but I’ve never asked her to do anything like this before.)
She pulls over three beads, “One, two, three.” Then she holds up her thumb, touches it to the first bead and says, “One.” She holds up her pointer finger, touches it to the second bead and says, “Two.” Finally she holds up her middle finger, touches it to the third bead and says, “Three.”
“Can you show me how many days we have left down here?” I point to the bottom Math Rack.
She pulls over two beads, “One, two.” Then she puts her thumb, pointer, and middle fingers back up and moves her hand over to the two beads she just pulled over so that the two fingers that are still down are touching them.
I feel like she’s turned a corner developmentally and a whole new landscape has opened up. I’m so excited to explore it with her!