Let's talk numbers shall we? | Travelling Storyteller Photographer

2 x 8; 6 x 6 ; 12 x 56 ; etc…3 minutes …GO!

My guilty pleasure is reading the news. I shouldn’t really. The whole world is going south…or north, either way it is getting colder, hotter, messier. And in North America, apparently no one can add. Or subtract or multiply for that matter. According to the news that is. Or could it be fake?. Oh but I digress….(I did not just go there…!). Recently, Canadian scholastics are making top news and math is the headline.

Today at the lunch table (remember we get 2 hours everyday…and now that we are into the groove of it I am kinda loving it) while we talked about our mornings we stumbled through to math. Math at school, how we love it and sometimes hate it, how we are challenged by it but find it fun, the math lessons and tests that we have coming up (because taking on a new school system is an “US” thing not just a “them” thing) and that math is in and can be found ….everywhere.

they do things different here

Leaving Canada Tony and I knew that the kids would Not be homeschooled - in fact in Switzerland it is prohibited unless you get special permission (but it is elusive…the permission part..not the schooling - that’s mandatory!). Perhaps I’ll come back to that one. We felt pretty good about the “Swiss Schooling” and with a few phone calls and information later, the girls were registered when we moved. The Swiss school system - to come back on topic, requires that all children attend school. If they are Swiss nationals they typically attend a local school - chosen for them by the school system by way of their home address, age and school grade level. There is no “we would like to attend XX school”, or “please put me on the wait list for XX School”, or “what do we have to do/who do we speak with to have my child attend XX school”: Nope. You are simply informed - typically by mass email with all the other parents at the same time as to where your child will go to school. End. Of. Story. The benefits to this is that the school system tries to equalize the classrooms to allow for as equal distribution of genders, skill level and aptitude as possible. The negative downside, ”your opinion” that does not factor into the decision. I have learned from others that though this decision making process that is taken completely out of our hands can be freeing on the one hand, it can be incredibly difficult to navigate should another option be desired, or needed depending on the situation. In our case, we trusted the system to have made the best decision without knowing us and went forward with it! Fortunately for us, our kids have adapted to their classrooms and teachers and our ability to support them seems to be helping them find their wings. We’re learning together, leaning into the new and doing ok!

 if we have to do homework, then doing it in the sun with a window crayola (don’t tell anyone…it isn’t CranDash!!) is the sure fire way to get things done. Add a stop watch and it turns mundane tasks into a game!

if we have to do homework, then doing it in the sun with a window crayola (don’t tell anyone…it isn’t CranDash!!) is the sure fire way to get things done. Add a stop watch and it turns mundane tasks into a game!

Focus back on the ABCs and 123s

Starting school here we realized quite quickly that despite there being lessons in all subjects, the focus would be on reading, writing and arithmetic. And by large focus, I mean bring on the mothership - the mental arithmetic that is done here is something else. Takes me back to when I was young and being able to recite the multiplication tables by heart. I remember learning them under the covers with my little ‘owl’ calculator whose eyes would light up green if I got the answer right…red if I got it wrong. The first days of school saw Talia excited to meet new friends and her introduction to the class was a rousing game of “who can do it faster?!” - a sheet of paper, multiplications, additions and subtractions…fun times….and….GO! Did I mention it was timed? The Swiss do love their time pieces! Despite the cold sweat and panic that set in on the early mornings of school “will they keep asking me those mama?” we have now come to know that this is how we do math here…and frankly…we are getting good at it!

 T showing A how the multiplication process works. Take note little one…your next with the speed game!

T showing A how the multiplication process works. Take note little one…your next with the speed game!

A also is provided with sheets of maths that encourage pattern recognition, review of the same concept over and over but with the intention of memorization. To be fair both Tony and I feel that the mental math is a great thing and as a family we are getting into it. It could also be that we have the window crayons to make any homework session more fun and to be fair when you make it a race which includes running, a timer and chocolate as the prize there isn’t a Histon-Howes that won’t take part.

 window markers….love love love them. Next up…our grocery list!

window markers….love love love them. Next up…our grocery list!

 As a photographer capturing the moment - the shadows were incredible!

As a photographer capturing the moment - the shadows were incredible!

 Big sister looking on while little A works on getting it right!

Big sister looking on while little A works on getting it right!

we are learning that doing things differently is bringing us together

Nothing like moving across the world to experience the new to challenge your everyday. Despite it being a country that we feel so comfortable in, we still have so much to learn. Coming up on 8 weeks of school, we are trepidatiously feeling more comfortable with what goes on, the expectations and the assignments. Show me a kid who succeeds and I’ll show you a kid who feels confident. We are working through the challenges as they come, providing encouragement, suggesting ideas and creating games all while doing it together….while never forgetting the window markers that make what can be dull and onerous into something that fun!

child writing math on window
two kids at the window about numbers

For the record I am not aware of what is happening with the math curriculum back home as we are focused on what’s happening right in front of us. Fortunately we have two kids who dig numbers and as parents we think that is rather cool, so for now we are indulging our inner playful geek and working the +/* - to our advantage. If they believe what we are telling them…math will get them places - and if nothing else…to the train on time!