Teaching Calculus to Little Kids

Some people think teaching calculus to little kids is absurd because, traditionally, kids are not taught calculus until high school or college. However, there are a couple of books written especially for teaching calculus to kids as young as six or seven. Why not? Arithmetic isn’t of much use without calculus to explain principles in physics, chemistry and biology. The Calculus resources written for youngsters focus on creative problem-solving, pattern recognition and real-world physics applications.

In keeping with our theory of teaching physics, chemistry and biology early, we say, teach calculus early so students have the tools to solve real problems. After all, memorizing multiplication tables is useless if you can’t apply the knowledge to solve a problem. Focus on developing kids’ visualization skills, how to think mathematically to find multiple solutions to problems, how to find and apply patterns and to enjoy the problem-solving process. Then teach them how to do arithmetic!

A few books on teaching calculus to kids

Calculus without Tears

Calculus Without Tears – Written with a very physics-centric approach

Calculus by and for Young People

Calculus by and for Young People – The Mathman assumes only that the student can count


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7 Comments on “Teaching Calculus to Little Kids
  1. Great points! I, myself, designed and taught a “Middle School Calculus Course.” The kids loved it! They could see the application with max/min optimization problems. They also learned that they needed their basic skills to be fine-tuned if they wanted to be able to solve harder problems in the future (those that calculus, etc, pose).

    Teaching advanced topics to younger students can keep them interested, while the otherwise daily drills (while necessary) can lose their attention quickly.

  2. Wow, I think it is fantastic that you taught a Middle School Calculus Course! Thanks for weighing in here and sharing your experience. It sounds like your students were motivated to learn a bit more arithmetic as a result of the calculus lessons!

  3. My name is Kelly Liakos and I have been teaching math at the college level since 1983.

    Over the past 12 years I have developed computer animations, labs, and graphics for use in my classes that cover course from PreCalculus and Trig through the Calculus sequence and elementary differential equations.

    I have recently published my work on my personal website http://calculus7.com/
    The site contains over 400 downloads of which 280 are animations.

    I have also published a companion web site http://calculus7.com/creatinganimationsusingmathcad/
    which contains the format files I created to create the animations.

    I have always had a difficult time separating Calculus and physics so perhaps your Physics students will find some of the applications useful as well.

    It has been viewed in 145 countries and has had over 120,000 hits and 30,000 visitors since being launched last July.

    I know that these days many math professors are looking for online resources to aid in adding technology to their lectures. This site could also be a valuable resource for distance learning.

    Students as well can benefit from having an online resource.

    I have recently started a $25/year subscription fee– the price of an hour of tutoring in order to keep the web site going. However I do offer examples that can be viewed before subscribing.

    If you think it might be of help to your students or possibly a resource for your instructors or professors please pass this on.

    If you have any questions please feel free to contact me :



  4. I actually took the official Calculus BC AP course in middle school along with 5 other kids in my class. I did not find it hard at all and I believe that calculus could easily be taught much earlier than it is now.

  5. This is something that I have wanted to do for a long time, and now that I am a father I will be able to! One thing that I always say is that if someone else can do it, you can do it. Nothing is so difficult that it cannot be mastered, and something as well documented and studied as calculus is not to be seen as the pinnacle of mathematical learning, but rather the start.

    Why learn what everyone else knows when you can use that to learn something they dont?

  6. I agree completely about teaching real math to young kids. Years of long multiplication and division (only) will create a bunch of adults who hate math, and I can’t blame them!

    I worked in a high school where the physics teacher was disliked by the math department for requesting the kids be taught the necessary calculus for physics before senior year. I always wondered how short a time it would take to teach students enough derivativation and integration for physics, and next month I’ll be teaching my “Calculus Program” to homeschoolers in the Bay Area. Wish me luck!


    I’ve been a big fan of Don “The Mathman” Cohen for a decade now. I highly recommend his books and videos. I just recently discovered and purchased a few volumes of “Calculus Without Tears” and I’m eagerly working through his brilliant program.


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