My 6-year-old son is fascinated by numbers. He quantifies EVERYTHING. I found an old scientific calculator in a drawer this weekend, and gave it to him. Immediately, he started grilling me… “Mom, do YOU know what 80 times 80 is? It’s 6,400!” Once I showed him the “shift” function, he was in his glory!
“Hey mom, do you know this calculator has a log button? And sin too? Is that bad?”
(I swear I do NOT indoctrinate this child with mathematics – his curiosity is so pure and sincere!)
Now, his new mission is to memorize digits of pi. He’s irritated that the calculator rounds the last digit, so I printed him the first 100 digits of pi. After retrieving “pi” from my printer, I found him in his room, writing furiously in a notebook. Here is his finished product!
Is it too early to teach a 6-year-old about pi? Do you think my son’s curiosity is exceptional, or do many young children have the capacity for this kind of curiosity about mathematics? Do we wait too long to teach many mathematical concepts? Or do we try to teach too many abstract topics too soon?