This is the Million Dollar Question! And the answer seems elusive for many people. Partly because there’s no set answer. But here’s some info that might help.
We know a lot of different ways that unschoolers could learn math. Games, technology, building, cooking – these are just a few of the possibilities. But the ones that will work for YOUR children will be the ones that actually interest them. If you have a kid interested in technology, forcing him to cook so he’ll learn fractions isn’t a good idea. Remember, unschooling is about fueling their interests – even math! When you tap into what they want to know or what they have a curiosity abut, their wheels will start turning and they’ll explore and play with the concepts. That’s a deeper kind of learning than the rote memorization that most of us were subjected to. Unschooled kids won’t have the baggage that you and I have from all those years of school… that national math phobia we seem to all graduate with. For the unschooled kids, though, it will simply be about solving a problem, figuring out a solution. And that’s actually a fun thing to do!
Our home had lots of games in it. While I wouldn’t consider us a big game-playing family, we played together often. Nothing super complicated. We always had things to fiddle with on coffee tables or the dining room table: pattern blocks, magnets, polished rocks, golf-tee games, pieces from nature… just to name a few. We involved the kids in banking and explained interest rates and how credit cards worked. They shopped and compared prices. They understood how percentages worked from leaving tips and identifying good sales. They sorted and grouped, divided and multiplied… just as part of their daily lives.
We had books that encouraged creativity in math:
Family Math by Jean Kerr Stenmark and Virginia Thompson
The I Hate Mathematics Book by Marilyn Burns
Games for Math by Peggy Kaye
But this was all before the internet was so easy to use. Now I’d simply use Pinterest! Here’s a link to my Unschooling Math Pinterest board.
While each of my three children’s lives had similarities, growing up in the same home, they each chose different paths for how they would explore and learn and use math. I’m giving these specifics, not as something for anyone to duplicate, but instead, to see how different each is – and how that’s all ok. No doors closed for them because of their choices.
Hopefully, this will help you see that your own child’s path is also ok. Whether they choose to have a lot of math in their lives, or not so much… it’s all ok! We don’t all need the same set of math skills.
An Unschooling Path to Math: Katie (coming soon!)
An Unschooling Path to Math: Alyssa (coming soon!)