Unschooling and math. We really seem to have some national phobia about it! And the only logical conclusion is that it comes from the way schools teach math. So let’s not duplicate THAT aspect from our educational experience!
Unschoolers learn math the same way they learn everything else in life – they have a need to know it so they learn it. Pre-planning because maybe they might need some aspect later down the road is, more likely than not, a waste of time. And trying to force topics on children when they have no interest, simply is ineffective and sometimes even counterproductive.
Let’s just admit that your high school algebra classes have been long since forgotten. And all those other math processes you were told were necessary “just in case you need them?” Well, you didn’t need them after all, right? Or if one little component (for me it was ratio and proportions) turned out to BE useful, it was solidified when you or I needed it! We could have bypassed the years of irrelevant practice problems!
Math “sinks in” when it’s in context. That’s why we don’t remember much from our old math classes. Arbitrary problems with no real connection to our lives aren’t going to cut it. The brain does not store what it considers unimportant pieces of information… unless it’s actually used.
So when unschooled kids (or any kids really) are using math while playing video games, it’s useful to them and their brains DO remember the concepts more. It’s really astounding how much math is required while playing video games. Watch your kids play. You’ll see them figuring out how to find the solution. It’s a practical application of all the “word problems” many of us hated. They’re actually learning how to think mathematically – instead of just memorizing something they have no clue when to apply. While it’s harder to measure their progress, it’s such a deeper understanding! Why would you want to pull them off the computer/gaming console so they could crank out a couple of math worksheets?
If you’re one of those people still hanging onto math workbooks/curriculum – but otherwise really liking the unschooling concept, I invite you to do two things:
1.) Take a few months off. Maybe even until summer. Watch your child and see where math pops up. Do mathy thing things with them – without even calling it “math.” Just play with them. Read math stories. Notice the shapes and patterns in architecture. Get creative on how YOU look at math. If you tell yourself “this is just an experiment,” your fears may be easier to set aside. You may even be surprised when you don’t need to return to the workbooks!
2.) If you like the idea but you just need more support on it, join my coaching group starting on Monday. I’ll walk you through it! I have a ton of resources to help you!!!