Math and Football

Figuring out your child is gifted and may not think like other kids doesn’t hit you like a thunderbolt. At least it didn’t for me. It was a gradual process with little clues along the way. Many of them ignored or just not recognized.

There was finding out she could read at age two. It was the daycare director who told us about that. I just thought she had memorized all those Dora the Explorer books but a trip to the library proved she could read much more than just Dora.

Same way with math. She knew all her numbers and could even count in Spanish (thanks, Dora!) well before age two. I was starting to suspect she might be bright but the gifted word wasn’t yet part of my vocabulary. Differentiation? Enrichment? Forget about it.

My focus was on potty-training, getting rid of the binky, and more potty-training. The important stuff.

My husband has always made it a point to share his love of sports with our daughter. To date that love has not proved contagious but he keeps trying.Math and Football

One of the ways they’ve bonded is watching football. Sadly, she generally insists on rooting for the opposing team because willfully cantankerous.

It was while watching a football game one evening, she was about age three, that we had one of those elusive thunderbolt moments.

I forget the exact score of the game and I don’t remember for sure who was playing. Probably the Detroit Lions and they were probably losing. Again.

She started getting agitated and saying there was a mistake with the score on the TV. Let’s say the score was 9-14. Detroit obviously the team with 9 on the board.

Nope, we assured her the score was correct. Then came the tears of frustration as she tried to tell us there had to be a mistake. Little voice raised, little feet stomping, cheeks red, tears flowing.

Finally she was able to get out there had to be a mistake because touchdowns with extra points equals 7 and 7 doesn’t go into 9. Obviously the NFL has made a scoring error.

Proud papa moment! Tears were dried and an explanation of field goal conversions ensued.

It was then I realized that most three-year olds, who were barely potty-trained, were probably not doing division in their head.

Not sure she remembers the finer points of the game but her love of numbers is still strong.

Encouraging a Love for Math

What do you do with that?

I had no idea. Not sure I have the right answer even now.

On trips to Barnes & Noble she gravitated to math workbooks. We started playing Monopoly and you can guess who the banker was. There wasn’t any formal math instruction or enrichment until kindergarten.

Mostly because I didn’t know what to do or where to look.

Once in kindergarten the differentiation and enrichment started in earnest. Thanks to a progressive and saintly teacher, she was moved into higher grades for both reading and math.

The first year of kindergarten was supplemented with EPGY math, the old version. With the guy with the creepy voice. Her words, not mine. And more workbooks.

Then I found online resources, apps, and books to keep her engaged. Murderous Maths is a recent favorite.

Math enrichment is now part of our everyday life. Most recently she’s taken Art of Problem Solving pre-algebra and competed in the AMC8 competition. She’s spent Saturdays in IMACS classes where she met one of her best friends. Sundays, ok, some Sundays, are at Math Circle at the local university.

Despite the fact that there seems to be a national outcry to educate more girls in STEM, math accommodation can be tricky to get at local schools. Luckily we have a school that’s willing to try to meet her where she’s at and for that I’m grateful.

What’s been your experience with kids who love math?

This post is part of Hoagies’ Gifted Education Page March 2016 Blog Hop: March Mathness. Read more here.

Hoagies' Gifted Blog Hop

9 Responses

  1. We live in a nyc suburb and our schools are supposed to be very good. They’re not cut throat, but the student population largely come from “type A,” very successful parents. While lots of their children are “bright,” our child truly is gifted (read at 2, iq 144, etc). Unfortunately, I’m pretty sure my son is bored in his class (grade 4) And he seems largely uninspired as it pertains to school.
    Our school offers no pull outs for accelerated reading or math. I have enrolled him at certain points in enrichment classes, but it’s tricky because they can be costly and time consuming (and I have two other kids).
    In addition, my son’s social development has always been far behind his cognitive abilities, so I’ve somehow justified that he needs to work on those skills and be a regular kid.

    The thing is, I know my son bored (academically) in his classes. We cannot afford private school and I’m not sure what type of enrichment is best. When he was in kindergarten and grade 1, I shared my son’s IQ reports (along with the rest of the neuropsych eval) with the school, and the administrators and teachers never seemed to think he needed anything extra. It’s hard, because my son is very below the radar, does his work and quietly withdraws/reads when he is bored.
    I know this is a lot, but any suggestions? Also, he had a np evaluation at age four, but he hasn’t been tested since (aside from his state tests last year). Would you recommend having him tested again to have another data point for his IQ?

    • The Common Mom says

      I know it’s hard when your child isn’t being challenged and the school doesn’t offer many alternatives. Have you looked into a full grade acceleration? You might look at the Iowa Acceleration Scale as a resource. For enrichment, take a look at Johns Hopkins Center for Talented Youth Talent Search. Also, depending on your son’s scores he may qualify for Davidson Young Scholars. They offer online enrichment programs and also a family counselor that can help you advocate at your school – and all at no cost. I’m not sure about having another IQ test done but he can take the SCAT through the CTY Talent Search program and that can be used to advocate for accommodations at school. Stay strong!


    DC1 is also into kahn academy and STmath at school. I love math so much. I think I’m going to start teaching him proof-based geometry next year since they don’t teach it in school anymore and I own a copy of my favorite geometry textbook (for challenge and enjoyment!).

    With DC2 we’re still at fingerplay and starfall.

  3. I love this story! One of those a-ha moments. So sweet!

  4. I remember the stunned feeling when the psychologist told me my son’s IQ. I was hoping it was at least the minimum threshold (130) for entrance into the gifted and talented program in our school district because I knew in my heart that was where he belonged. ( I actually teared up when watching a video about the program. It was an immediate and visceral response). When the psychologist told me his General Ability Index, I was stunned, shocked. It was so much higher than I imagined. All I could think was, he could go to any college he wanted, It was like we had been living in a dark box struggling with my son’s aggression, intensity, impulsivity and recent school suspensions and then suddenly the top was ripped off the box exposing limitless beautiful blue sky… He was nine at the time in third grade. I knew he was bright, but I had no idea how bright until then.

    • The Common Mom says

      I know what you mean about the visceral response. I felt a myriad of feelings: vindication, relief, shock, lost. And a few tears were shed.

      I love your line: “top was ripped off the box exposing limitless blue sky…” I may be quoting that one!

  5. I can’t tell how old your daughter is, but I suggest that you come to see our summer programs this summer–we’d love to tell you more about our how we work with high-talent math students @Project MEGSSS

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