I announced I was stepping back from my blog, and going off to do something else for a while, but later I remembered I promised to answer a few questions about maths and English and the catechism. So here I am, back again to tie up a few loose ends.
So pondering maths…
Before I begin, I want to say I don’t think I have all the answers, not even for my own family. I certainly don’t want to give the impression I think I have found the perfect way to unschool maths. The longer we unschool, the more I understand the philosophy and so little changes appear in how we apply it. I still experiment. I’m still finding out what works and what doesn’t.
Now many families decide to unschool in every way except for maths. It can seem so difficult to let go of this area, which is perceived as so essential, and simply trust children will learn all they need to know in their own time. I was the same. For many years, we used structured courses for maths. We tried books and we tried online courses. We were all quite excited at first with the online courses. They seemed appealing and fun, and I hoped they would interest my children enough they would choose to do them. But a day came when Sophie said, “I hate maths! I’m no good at it.” I wrote about this in the post…
I decided that I’d let my girls learn maths using real life maths experiences instead. I could have just taken advantage of the naturally occurring maths moments that crop up each day, but I chose to actively strew experiences and resources, hoping to capture their interest.
One day, Sophie discovered some old maths text books on the shelf and wanted to use them. But her enthusiasm, like I predicted, didn’t last long. The novelty factor soon wore off. This story can be found in this post:
So I returned to real life maths. I again looked out for maths that occurs in our everyday lives. I strewed books and websites where maths is used in an interesting way.
Sophie added her thoughts on maths and learning in my post:
Proving children have age-appropriate maths skills, for homeschool registration purposes, is very easy if they are completing a structured course. It’s more tricky if a child is unschooling maths. I decided to give my girls a maths test, the results of which could be added to their records. Sophie and Gemma-Rose passed the test, but the whole experience violated our unschooling principles too much. We abandoned that idea…
I spoke a bit about trusting children in this post:
And I wrote about solving what could be perceived as a problem in..
I continued recording, in my records book, every maths moment my girls experienced, like…
Sophie’s attitude about maths has changed completely. She now enjoys maths immensely. One day I realised she has moved behind simply enjoying maths. She loves thinking about maths in a creative way. My thoughts on this can be found in the following post:
By unschooling maths in the way my posts describe, Sophie no longer thinks she is no good at maths. She regards herself as a mathematician. So I guess I achieved my goal when we gave away the structured course, and looked for alternative ways to expose her to maths concepts.
I just like to add that from my point of view, unschooling maths is a lot of hard work. I have to keep my eye out for anything that might interest Sophie. I actually share her maths which I love, but it takes time. It would be so much easier just to enrol her in another online course, or buy her a book. But I know if I do that, Sophie’s love of maths will disappear. I am willing to put in the effort so my daughter can learn maths in a way that suits her.
Many children seem not to like maths. Is it a case of them not enjoying how it is presented, can they not see the relevance of what they are learning, or are they just not mathematically inclined? I think all possibilities can apply. We know our own children best. Sophie definitely is mathematically minded. I just had to let her learn maths in a way that meets her needs.
So if you are pondering maths, you may like to share my experiences by reading the above posts. These stories are all about my primary age children. My high schoolers have a different story. This can be found in…
As you will read, Imogen and Charlotte chose to do a structured online maths course. This fits right in with unschooling philosophy, although it might not appear to. The girls wanted to learn maths, and they decided for themselves how they wanted to learn it. Charlotte enjoys her course. Some people do enjoy working their way through concepts in an ordered way. I can remember doing that myself. Others don’t. Maybe listening to the child is the answer.
Since I wrote this post, lots has happened as far as my family and maths goes. For example, my daughter Charlotte eventually stopped her maths course (before she finished it.) If you are interested in hearing more about our unschool story and maths ideas, please have a look at the maths page on this blog. I have written quite a few more maths posts and recorded podcasts on this topic too!