Why Kids with Families Don’t Need Workbooks to Learn Basic Maths

32 years ago, in the month of June, Andy and I were married. June is the 1st month of winter here in Australia, but we enjoyed a summer wedding because we were married in England.

Before we were married, we often discussed our dreams for the future. I imagined having 3 or 4 children. But things didn’t work out that way. We were blessed with 8. I had hoped for a girl and would have been quite content with just 1, but we were given 5 gorgeous daughters. Of course, this means we have 3 handsome sons.

Our 1st 2 children were born 17months apart, and it looks like there are 3 years between the births of the others. But this isn’t true. Appearances are deceiving. Thomas was born during the 3 years between Charlotte and Sophie. He died 28 ½ hours after birth, and although his place in the family isn’t obvious to outsiders, it is to us. We know he, and not Sophie, is our 6th child. She is our 7th.

There is a special relationship between our 5th daughter, Gemma-Rose, and Imogen, our 2nd. At the moment, Gemma-Rose is 11 and Imogen is 20. When the digits of each of their ages are added together, they make 2. After their next birthdays, these digits will both add up to 3, and the following year, 4 and so on.

We love celebrating birthdays. There are only 4 months in the year when we don’t get to eat birthday cake: March, June, August and October. (In June we eat wedding anniversary cake instead.) 3 birthdays fall in summer, 3 in autumn, 1 in winter, and 3 in spring. We’re counting down to our next birthday celebration. It’s only 2 weeks away. If we add all our ages together, the result is 246. Oh my! That’s rather a large number!

I was born on a Sunday. So was Imogen. Sophie and Thomas were born during daylight hours, one am and one pm. The rest of our children were born after dark. Thomas died on a Wednesday at 3 pm, which is The Hour of Mercy.

Duncan is the tallest member of our family, and Gemma-Rose is the shortest. But she is quickly catching up with her sisters, who are all just over 1.5 metres in height. (So am I.) That’s about 5 foot. I won’t reveal anyone’s weight, but I can tell you 4 of us wear women’s size 10 clothes, one wears women’s size 8 and Gemma-Rose is a child’s size 12.

Gemma-Rose has hobbit feet, big for her age, but she’s rapidly growing into them. Her feet are the same size as big sister Imogen’s (size 6). The rest of the female members of our family have average sized feet: size 7.

Except for Nora. Her feet are huge. I almost forgot to tell you about Nora. She’s one of the girls too. She’s also a dog. She is about 18 months old, 1 ½ years. She weighs 23 kilos and is all muscle. I’m guessing she was a summer puppy or maybe she was born at the end of spring. It’s hard to tell. She was already 5 or 6 months old when we first met her in the animal shelter. 

There are 10 chairs around our kitchen table. That’s 1 for each member of our family including Thomas. Of course, Thomas has never sat in his chair, but it’s kind of nice knowing he has a chair of his own like everyone else. Thomas’ chair used to be the only empty chair when we all sat down to dinner. Nowadays there are 3 empty places at our table because Felicity and Callum no longer live at home.

When someone sets the table for dinner on an ordinary night, 7 forks, 7 knives and 7 spoons are needed. That’s 21 pieces of cutlery. Add in the table mats, the plates and the glasses and there are 42 things on the table.

Usually, dinner has to be served 7 ways. But if Callum and his fiancée come to dinner, we have to divide the meal into 9ths (and multiple the cutlery by 9). And when Felicity and her husband come home in a few months’ time and we gather for a family meal, we’ll be dealing with multiples of 11 and 11ths.

I’m glad I have a family to share a meal with. Sharing is a blessing. For example, I discovered that 1/2 a cake tastes so much better than a whole cake when the cake is shared with someone you love.

Ordinal, cardinal, hours, days, weeks, months and the seasons of the year, time, weights, heights, ages, fractions, addition, subtraction, division, multiplication and a good splash of sharing. A family is all about maths. 

These are just a few of our maths stories. We have a whole heap more. I bet you have lots of similar tales too. 
Do children need workbooks to learn basic maths? No. All they need is a family.

Image: 6 members of our family: 4 girls, 2 boys, (1 girl, 1 boy missing!)


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    • Amy
    • July 4, 2015

    I SO love reading your stories! I should sit down & write our Family 'math' story…..that would be a fun addition to my scrapbooks/journals. 😉

    1. Reply


      Thank you! Oh yes, write your math story! I bet once you begin, you'll discover the stories are never-ending. I could have written so much more. The ideas kept flowing long after I finished the post!

  1. Reply

    Haha Sue – that's a great "maths" story – well done! Blessings to you and your lovely family.

    1. Reply


      I'm glad you enjoyed my maths story. Thank you so much for stopping by. May God bless you and your family too!

  2. What a fun and interesting story, Sue – I enjoyed reading it very much! You must have a very big table! How lovely that Felicity and her husband are coming to visit – I bet you're all very excited.

    1. Reply


      I've missed you! It's lovely to see your comment today. We do have a big table. I bought it before moving into our current home, and I wasn't sure it would fit into the kitchen. But it does! I love my table especially when all the chairs are occupied! We haven't seen Felicity for 5 years so it will be a very special occasion when she comes home in a few weeks' time. She and her husband Graham are travelling here for Callum's wedding. Yes, we're all very excited!

  3. Reply

    This blog post is great. Yes exactly what we do. I just never got the idea of writing it down. Our family if very systematic and mathematical when it comes to our dates. all born in uneven years, all but two born on Fridays – and those two are born on the same days as me and hubby.
    Wow not seen your daughter in 5 years! That's a long time. I guess Gemma-Rose will have a hard time realising that big sister once lived at home just like her. I know my smallest have this problem when big sister is visiting. Telling her where everything is, as if she did not know the house.
    It sure sounds so exciting, a big family feast for Callum's wedding.
    God bless!

    1. Reply


      I enjoyed writing down this maths story. Why don't you write down yours too? I bet you have many such stories. You could share one on your blog or just enjoy it within your family.

      You were all born in uneven years? I didn't even think of looking at odds and evens. We have 5 odd year births and 5 even ones!

      Yes, 5 years is a long time. Somehow time passes without us realising. I speak to Felicity often so still feel in contact with her despite not seeing her. Felicity never lived in our current house. She left home when Gemma-Rose was a baby. I feel a bit sad about that because Gemma-Rose has no memories of living with her big sister. But that's just the way things are when we have children spread over many years. Felicity is planning some special sister time for when she is home. I'm sure they'll make some great sister memories together.

      God bless you too!

    • San
    • July 14, 2015

    Just catching up. This is absolutely brilliant!! You are a wonderful wordsmith xx

    1. Reply


      This post was fun to write. I love playing around with words and I'm glad the result was okay. I remember when I was playing the writing game and trying to come up with an unschooling post using a random word as a starting post. One of those stories was Unschooling Sausages. It's good now and then to play games. Thinking of the writing game, I suddenly feel like playing it! Thank you for your encouraging comment! xxx

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