Some thoughts on math

Some of the biggest questions that I get about unschooling are about math.  Truth be told, some of the biggest questions I ask myself are about math.

Math continues to surprise me, though.  It’s one of those things that is all around us and pops up at surprising times.

Since we began unschooling, we have ceased formal teaching of math.  Instead, we address it as it arises in our day to day lives and in the girls’ various interests.

The other week, our ten-year-old came to us and asked us what algebra was.  She had heard someone talking about it.  Matt sat down with her and showed her the basic concepts and how to solve for x.  She was hooked.  She begged me to write her pages upon pages of problems to solve.  I made them gradually more complex, and within a few hours, she was ready for something meatier.  So, we made sets with three problems each and four variables.  She had to experiment and use deductive reasoning to figure out what all four variables were.  I honestly don’t think I did anything that complicated until I was at least in 7th grade.  It was her first day of algebra, but she was ready.

She was ready because she was interested, she was fascinated, she wanted it.  It thrilled her, it excited her, and it was playful.  She wanted to find the answers because it was fun and interesting, not because it was a test she was held accountable for.

Let math remain playful.  Trust your kids.  It comes when they are ready!

PS – My second daughter is nothing like my first.  Her math interests have mainly stayed with cooking (basic fractions, etc.).  I’m not worried.  I honestly believe that she will gain the skills she needs when she is ready for them and needs them.