Solving problems

We have started to give the boys mathematical challenges to solve and it is great to see them persevere and puzzle them out. Today, our eldest son completed about 3. One was solved using chess kings and queens and a coaster:

"2 men and 2 women want to sail to an island. The boat will only hold 2 women or 1 man. How can all 4 of them get to the island?"

It didn't take him long.

Our middle son, to whom numbers don't come quite so easily, pondered over the following puzzle for some time:

"The toy shop stocks tricycles and go-carts. The tricycles have 3 wheels. The go-carts have 5 wheels. Suna counted the wheels. He counted 37 altogether. How many tricycles are there? How many go-carts? Find two ways to do it."

Initially, he became a bit upset saying, "I can't do it" but with some encouragement, he kept going and refused offers of help and 'clues' I was ready to give. He listed his 5 times and 3 times tables (refusing to look them up) and then looked at pairs of numbers trying to make 37. He was absolutely delighted when he solved it, and talked about it all day, telling my husband about his accomplishment proudly at the dinner table.

When we took our middle son out of school, he was saying "I'm not very good at maths". Now he likes maths and realises he CAN do it. He can delight in his own achievements, and is growing in confidence, without measuring himself against others.