24, 2001 - Friday
Learning may be a process, but it's easy for an excited parent like me to get caught up in firsts and milestones and to think that once Harry's done something, he's mastered it. Last week, for example, Harry's mother said Harry counted to six and it seemed Harry was on his way to a Nobel prize or at least a high SAT score. Yet, since then I've heard that Harry is still firming up the details of counting, saying "six, eleven, nine..." while pointing at pieces of cereal on his tray, and I realized that the process is still incomplete.
But, today was another big step in a positive direction for Harry's future math skills. He accurately and deliberately counted to eleven. We were in the car on the way home from the playground and he was thirsty and begging for water. As is often the case in these processes of Harry learning patience, he was repeatedly calling desperately for water and I was repeatedly saying that we'd get some as soon as we got home. The a way out of this endless loop was telling Harry that we would be home in three minutes, then asking if he could count to three. He was, of course, to consumed with thirst (or maybe just the idea of thirst) to hear the question right off, but once I started slowly counting "one, two" Harry jumped in with "three." I repeated three back to him with excitement and Harry went on to count "four." I repeated "four" with a slightly higher level of anticipation and Harry said "five." We went on like that until Harry got to eleven, each time with me re-enforcing Harry's counting. Since we weren't quite home when harry ended at eleven, I picked it up from there with twelve, thirteen, fourteen and so on. Harry, in turn, repeated the number each time. We got up to twenty like that before our house came into to view, although I think we may have reached the end of Harry's patience for this little game anyway. But, that's pretty good for one day's learning.