I've still been rather slow about getting him going with work. We have not finished the Great Lesson on The Coming of Life (which, incidentally, he did not count as work last week lol) and I decided yesterday I wanted to get him going on math. My plan had been to work with him in the afternoon, but I was exhausted after not sleeping enough, he was tired and grumpy and it got forgotten. I remembered after supper when he asked for his usual after-supper video game turn. I said I still wanted to do a little work with him before that. He was very agreeable.
My plan had been to start with just checking his number concepts a bit, so I gave him a little whiteboard and took a little whiteboard myself and wrote down the number words for various numbers. He got them spot on. I was going to move onto teaching him about 10^___ for all those different place values when he got up and found a Pearls Before Swine comic book he has out from the library, found the strip with the basic algebra question (yes, he knew exactly which book had it) and wanted to know if we could do that. The question:
3x + 4 = 13
Sure, why not? Even though he has not really done questions like x + 4 = 13, but we could go for it if that's what interested him. He really has almost no experience with variables, so he originally thought 3x + 4 was 7x and then x would be 6, because 7 + 6 is 13. I explained that the 3x meant he had the same number 3 times and I drew 3 little boxes. He took another stab at it and guessed 2. I showed him how we substitute 2 into x and that it worked out that 3x + 4 was 10 when x was 2, so it couldn't be that. He then decided to guess 4, but he did the substitution and realized it wouldn't work. He then figured out that it would be 3.
I asked him if he wanted me to show him how we would do it without guessing. He said yes. So I drew out 4 little circles next to the 3 boxes, put an equal sign and then 13 little circles. I then drew a sort of balance underneath. I explained that the left side always has to equal the right side when we have the equal sign. I took one circle away from each side and asked him if I could do that, if everything would stay equal if I did that. He said yes. So I removed 3 more from each side, leaving him with 3 boxes equalling 9 little circles. I asked how much each box would have if we split the circles up equally. He has not really done much division, so he guessed incorrectly and I then drew arrows from the circles to the boxes and he saw that each box would have 3. So, x = 3. I normally don't move onto the symbols right away, but I instinctively felt I should with him and showed him how we wrote each step.
He then moved onto another question. I rewrote the sample question in the corner so he had a model to work with and he did the next question on his own. And then another question. I asked him why he was doing certain things and he completely understood it. At some point, it came up that it was something done in grade 8 in the schools; he's in grade 7, so this impressed him. He asked if he was good at math. (lol) I said he was, but that he wasn't able right now to do all the things that kids in grade 7 can because he hadn't worked on math nearly as much, but that he was able to understand it easily, which made him good at math. This whole conversation, just him asking the question with a little smile on his face because he was feeling good about the work he was doing, made me smile. :) And to add to the smile is the fact we did "school work" that he was happy about doing, did easily and is likely to want to do more of.
Of course, this now throws my well laid out math plan out the window a bit. :p