I wanted to ask those of you who have unschooled your children about how their language and math skills develop. We have always homeschooled. We have tried curriculum in the past, and have moved onto more of an eclectic/child lead learning style. This year only picked some very simple/short materials for language and math. Even with this little bit of instruction, I feel the pull towards unschooling as it seems so natural to me.However, I am still hanging onto teaching math. I recently gave up our language arts curriculum because it was teaching stuff that my daughter would do naturally, but it was forced and a bit dumbed down. I know there are so many real world applications of math, but in the back of my mind I wonder how she will do in the long run without any formal math lessons? I want to move forward in unschooling with confidence. Can any of you relate to this process and offer some reassuring experiences? Thanks so much!
My unschoolers are 17, 14, 12 and 8. They picked up a heck of a lot by osmosis, but I noticed that around about age 13 they started saying things like "I wish I knew more about _____. I want to find a book [lecture series, DVD series, on-line program, etc.] to learn more about it in a systematic way." Most recently my 14-year-old ds has been poking around looking for a way to get a good chronological understanding of modern world history. Last year he decided to dig in and tackle some advanced math in order to build the foundation on which he could make sense of physics, virtual physics game engines and probability. That required a certain amount of review of basics and a bit of gap-filling. He then moved ahead through a high school course and plans to continue on to the next level soon. My kids' language skills have mostly developed organically, but there have been times when they have requested a bit of input in editing their writing. They write to share ideas, discuss them on-line, blog, expound, rant, etc., and they like to present their ideas in ways that allow them to be taken seriously by self-styled grammar and spelling police as well as less discriminating readers. They have robust on-line lives that encourage a fair bit of writing.
So it's not that my kids have gained higher level literacy and math skills through daily life. Rather daily life has inspired in them the motivation to do bits of systematic study here and there, filling in gaps, gaining a foundation, expanding their skills, and that is what was given them higher-level skills. They haven't necessarily done any of this on the sort of timetable a high school curriculum would use, but it's all happened in good time.
I'm unschoolish, but not a real unschooler. I found that my kids learned numeracy and basic math concepts really well through daily life, but we've been doing a more formal math program now with my oldest because she's almost ready for algebra, but wasn't familiar with certain math notation, etc... So she's been chugging through a pre-algebra program, which is essentially a review of all the math kids are expected to learn in elementary school. Its going well-- I don't regret letting her learn math informally up till now.
My middle child is a workbook kid-- she likes doing math worksheets, the same way some people enjoy crosswords, so she does that in addition to learning math through day-to-day life.