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Old 10-25-2006, 12:16 PM - Thread Starter
 
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Hi! I am an unschooling mom of a 6 yr old dd and a 3 yr old ds. I am finding, like many unschoolers, that I lean to the tendency of unschooling "everything but math" However, I have not started any "formal math" ie: a flashcard set, a curriculum, bought cusinaire rods, etc as I am too d@#mn scared about this whole issue Dd actually read a Franklin book almost completely word for word yesterday (!!!!) and after about 6 months of not picking up a pen has started to write again, and I KNOW she knows the alphabet from memory from just playing around and making "lists" like me, and now has picked up an interest in spelling, and can tell me about all sorts of fascinating subjects, but I cannot seem to trust in this math area even though I can trust in all the others and see what a "fit" unschooling is for her.

On the suggestion of someone on a message board, I bought the Family Math activity book (for young children ages 4-8) I flipped through it, and to sit and "do" this with dd seems silly to me, along with all my other mental conversation of "is this too 'teachy' " running through my head. Except for the "bean salad" exercise (basic algerbraic thinking) I know that dd could do pretty much all of these activities. I looked at a scope and sequence for my province and know she could tell me of 3 objects which is first, 2nd third, etc.

I keep trying to tell myself she can "get" these concepts because of things that have come up in discussions in real life, things like understanding time, faster vs slower, bigger vs smaller, the concept of adding, etc but when I see those workbooks in the store that show adding 24+7 for a grade one-er I freak! I know there is math, and there is arithmatic, and I keep focusing on the arithmetic as that is what I remember in school, times table drills, reciting addition facts over and over to memorize them,etc. I was actually good at math in school BTW but because I knew how to, but not why, to work the formulas.

I guess in thinking about this I am not sure where to "go from here". So much of just playing Monopoly Jr. or something makes me feel like I have a hidden adgenda (like the previous discussion of strewing talks about) so here I sit paralyzed and not able to do much in the math area. I have visions of my kids at 15 not being able to calculate quickly and having to count on their fingers (!) although I know math is so much more than that.

Can anyone with older unschoolers give me any advice, or what worked for you? I want ot order some things from FUN books (because I need to be doing something, right ) like Grandfather Tang's story (tangrams...she loves puzzles anyway) or Peggy Kaye's Games for math but I am afraid I will have the same problems as before.

Tina

Tina, RN, wife-y to J, mom to dd (10) and ds (7)
"Beware the lollipop of mediocracy...one lick and you suck forever!"
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Old 10-25-2006, 01:27 PM
 
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Tina- my advice is to quit feeling guilty. It sounds like worrying about how perfectly unschoolish you are is making you crazy. There is no reason to feel guilty for playing Monopoly Jr- unless your child hates it. There is nothing wrong with introducing oportunities to learn, either, as long as you respect your child's choice to participate or not.

I think learning math through games is great. Dd really enjoys playing store, so we get out some money and take turns being the shop keeper and adding up the cost of our items.

Laura, Mama to Mya 7/02, Ian 6/07 and Anna 8/09
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Old 10-25-2006, 02:54 PM
 
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Can anyone with older unschoolers give me any advice, or what worked for you? I want ot order some things from FUN books (because I need to be doing something, right ) like Grandfather Tang's story (tangrams...she loves puzzles anyway) or Peggy Kaye's Games for math but I am afraid I will have the same problems as before.
I started off using Peggy Kaye's Games for Math and quickly found that, for my son, the games were just not that interesting - the schooly intent of them was different from fun books like I Hate Math and Math for Smarty Pants. Meanwhile, I was doing little Waldorfy things with him that were pretty harmless, playing with patterns - and I thought they were fascinating - but I started to notice that he really didn't need my teaching. He was learning up a storm on his own. Also, somewhere along the line, I apparently taught him some skip counting - and he liked that. It made it possible for him to figure out multiplication questions easily before he knew the times tables, and that was fun for him.

I would encourage playing with patterns as just an ongoing part of living - pointing things out, exploring interesting aspects of math together - that was very helpful for my son's own interest. He loved that.

When I was going through a phase of being concerned about getting in math study, I gave him the Keys To books to use at his own pace, and they probably helped some, but he didn't really use them all that much.

We'd open Harold Jacobs' wonderful books and play around with some of his stuff in later years - but he basically grew up without a formal program. When it was time to get ready of the SAT, he simply took the trial test from a prep book, figured out what he needed to learn, got some good math books (some of which we already had), hired a tutor for a short while to work with him on specific questions he had - and he did well on the test.

If you're the sort of person for whom math can be a natural part of life, pointing things out, thinking about things together, I think it will all work out fine. The thing is that it's like everything else - there are things a child will not find out about on his own. You read to your child and he discovers reading; you take them to plays and movies and they discover those arts; you provide cool art materials and arts and crafts ideas and they discover art - I think it needs to be the same with math. But you don't necessarily have to do schooly stuff to make it a part of your life.

You might take a look at these articles - there's a variety of ideas in them, some of which might click for you:

A Travel Excursion of the Mind

The Joys of Exploring Math With Your Child

Crazy for Calculating

Just Do the Math

- Lillian
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Old 10-25-2006, 03:25 PM
 
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Hi Tina -

I found the Family Math book didn't fit with our family, either.... It's a fabulous book for what it is, and I recommend it often, but it's just not for us.

But, board games have become one of our passions. We have tons. And so many of them (or, perhaps, all of them? I'd have to check) include math in some way. Uno, for the youngest crowd, works on color and number recognition. Yahtzee is just great fun - something about bouncing that cup around and rolling out all those dice. Most kids I know can't get enough of it. Monopoly games of all sorts, card games, Battleship (grids), etc. Even Scrabble includes doubling, tripling and adding up scores.

If you have a good selection of games (and assuming your kids are the game playing types), this will cover a lot of mathematical ground. Just about any game they choose will include some sort of math, even if it's just rolling and adding up dice. Doesn't have to be Monopoly (though, in our house, it often is).

Kenzie was fascinated with big numbers when he was five, so we found a place value board on ebay. Here's a link to what we have (though I'm sure one could easily be made with things around the house): place value board.

An abacus would be lots of fun, as well. We're still looking for a good one of those. There's an online abacus, though, that might be cool to tinker around with. Here's a basic abacus page, and here's a page with the online abacus you can manipulate.

But really, you can just live life the way you always have, and math will find its way in, regardless. There's no way to leave math out of a full and exciting life.

Most of my son's math knowledge has come from simple things in everyday life - like allowance, figuring out how long until something happens, cutting portions into halves, thirds, etc., baking, playing video games and board games, talking about volume and displacement when he fills the tub too high, reading Pokemon graphs and making his own (strengths, weaknesses, when they learn attacks, etc.), using a pedometer to figure out how many steps he takes and then multiplying that through weeks/months/years, using a stopwatch to time things, measuring with rulers/yardsticks/measuring tape, figuring out his heartrate, weighing things (including family members!), skip counting just for fun, trying to come up with ever larger (or ever smaller) numbers, etc.

He uses math every day. And, he thinks of it in relation to what he wants to know - not as some strange, useless subject someone has to teach him with pencil and paper. I worry about some of the "unschooled except for math" kids I know, because they're learning that everything except math is a natural part of living life.... I'm not sure what effect that will have on them later.

Kenzie told me a few weeks ago that it was "so sad that not everyone loves math - 'cause it's so much fun!" So far, so good.
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Old 10-25-2006, 03:55 PM
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Rain mastered most of basic addition and subtraction through counting and spending Chuck E Cheese tickets, I think... this was before they had the ticket-counting machines. She also loved games (and still does). We used to pick up games in thrift stores a lot, and one called Midnight Party was her fave for a long time... and scorekeeping involved both positive and negative numbers, so she picked up that. The thing is, it generally took (and takes) her a fraction of the time it takes schooled kids to pick up a concept... and a lot of time I have no idea how much she actually knows, and how it compares to schooled kids. I'd stop reading those workbooks, if I were you, and I just focus on what your kid is doing and enjoying. Don't think of "the math area" as being separate from anything lese... in retrospect I can see how Rain learned math concepts from Chuck E., but at the time it was just about pizza and games and tokens (actually, a friend and I would earn free Check E. gift cards and then take our kids and let them run wild for a couple of hours, so that we could *talk*).

I wouldn't order anything to have "math" stuff around. You could show your daughter some catalogs, though, and ask what she thinks she might want. Oh, and we also used to go to the Lawrence Hall of Science all the time, and a lot of the games and exhibits there are math-related (and fun), and sometimes we'd go off on tangents... is there a science museum near you?

Dar

 
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Old 10-25-2006, 04:37 PM
 
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Like Dar said, I would just let her pick some stuff she thinks looks cool. That's how we pick stuff. "Hmmm, this looks kinda cool."

My Dd and I mad a math facts book (staples, printer paper, markers) for her when she wanted to do multiplication years ago. We like games and websites too.

"The true measure of a man is how he treats a man who can do him absolutely no good."
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Old 10-25-2006, 08:21 PM
 
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But really, you can just live life the way you always have, and math will find its way in, regardless. There's no way to leave math out of a full and exciting life.
This is something I've often heard from people for whom math really is an ongoing conscious thread in their lives - but I have to disagree, from my own experience, that it always finds its way in. I had to go out of my way to find ways to make it a fun and visible part of our lives - because there honesly aren't that many times or ways I personally think or talk about it. I know people who do, but I'm just not one of them. I found all sorts nice ways to bring it into our lives in a more visible way, though. My son is a lot like me, and even though he was always someone his friends would look to for answers to their math questions, it was just never something that particularly interested him. And yes, he did pick things up in bits and pieces from here and there - but not as much as others I've heard of. I think the things he picked up were largely from things I brought in at first.
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Old 10-25-2006, 08:42 PM
 
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I just thought of something that's loosely related to this discussion. I just saw the movie, Marie Antoinette, with three friends. I thoroughly enjoyed it. When we were walking out, one of the women said, "Well...there sure wasn't much dialogue, was there?!," in a sort of disgusted tone. I blurted, "There wasn't? Gee, I didn't even notice!" Another friend said, "You didn't notice there wasn't much dialogue?!" I replied that no, I hadn't - I'm a very visual person, and I just didn't notice at all. The fourth added, "Well, I guess they didn't really need much dialogue - she said so much with her face and eyes..." I think the ways and extent to which math is given recognition and attention in daily life is very dependent on what your personality and way of seeing the world is like. I think math is fascinating, but I'm not interested in the mundane everyday stuff of it - not at all - and my son is the same. When he was seeing a tutor to get his ducks in a row for the SAT, she mentioned to him that his mathematical thinking is impressive enough that he could easily become a mathematician - but he's just much more interested in very different things. It's all so individual. - Lillian
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Old 10-25-2006, 09:29 PM
 
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My kids are young (2.5 and 10 months) so I'm not talking from experience here, but I found some good stuff in The Teenage Liberation Handbook about unschooling math--it helped me to think about it in a more helpful way.
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Old 10-26-2006, 01:11 AM
 
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We are a mathy family here, and often play "math challenge" with our kids-- we give them a math problem, and they try to figure it out. If they can't, we show them how (for addition and subtraction, we encourage the use of fingers-- they're the manipulatives you always have with you!). We stop if it's not fun and my kids really do enjoy it, but I imagine it looks very schoolish.

I agree with Lillian that different things are obvious to different people-- I see math everywhere, but history and art are everywhere too, I just have to look harder to see them, KWIM?

ZM
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Old 10-26-2006, 01:24 AM
 
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I agree with Lillian that different things are obvious to different people-- I see math everywhere, but history and art are everywhere too, I just have to look harder to see them, KWIM?
Funny you should mention that. I see art EVERYWHERE all the time, and I often find it so hard to comprehend how people can just go on talking or doing whatever they're doing instead of stopping and gawking at it.

I was at a casual business meeting at a home once when I noticed the color of my tea as the afternoon sun shone on it and how beautifully it harmonized with the picture on the mug. I was so captivated that I was about to blurt out to everyone to look! Stopped myself just in time - realized they'd all think I'd really gone off the deep end. Also realized I have no business in meetings of that sort. It was the beginning of a new way of looking at what kinds of things I should get involved with. Lillian
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Old 10-28-2006, 04:45 AM
 
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I know you'd asked for the advice of unschoolers with older children but my children are the same age as yours so I thought I'd share. It sounds like your daughter is concentrating on reading right now. Everyone has different strengths, skills, interests and they can go through stages. She may always be more of a word person than numbers or it may just be what she's working on now and later it'll change.

My son is a numbers kid. He is also 6 but isn't reading yet and has no interest. However he likes to figure out ways to count just for fun. '1 to 100', '100 by 10s', '100 by 5s'. He asks questions like what is 12 and 12 and then answers himself before we can talk him through figuring it out. Because he is interested in numbers - and because I'm about as anti-mathmtical thinking as you can get - we always try to talk numbers. People talk words, stories, images but people rarely talk math concepts.

From simple to complicated, just talk about what you do. I gave you a cookie, if you get another how many would you have? You can have 6 slices of apple for a snack; how many did I give you? how many more do you need? Shapes are mathmatical concepts. So are concepts like sorting, matching, categorizing. We talk fractions frequently just because they'll be in the kitchen while I cook. Even the idea that what we say as "one-and-a-half-cups" is really one cup and one 1/2 cup or, if you don't like to wash two cups, it's 3 1/2 cups.

I agree with the idea of games. Starting with CandyLand and Uno with matching colors. Dominos and Uno for matching numbers. Battleship is great with grids. Counting spaces, figuring strategy, all math ideas. Anything pattern matching is math. Don't force math but do talk through everyday things - weigh the apples at the grocery store, let the kids measure ingredients (and then dump them in the bowl, woohoo), time things they do.

But unschooling is all about waiting until something catches their interest. Let her read, write stories, (hey maybe try verbal or written word problems?), cross words, work the language art stuff right now. Keep casually mentioning math and one of these days her intersts may peak. (If it makes you feel any better, my husband is deperately worried about our 6 yo not reading yet. No worries about unschooling math or science because he's intersted so that's where we see him work. So in our case the worry is reading. He'll get there just like she will - when she's ready)
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Old 10-28-2006, 04:49 AM
 
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We are a mathy family here, and often play "math challenge" with our kids-- we give them a math problem, and they try to figure it out. If they can't, we show them how (for addition and subtraction, we encourage the use of fingers-- they're the manipulatives you always have with you!). We stop if it's not fun and my kids really do enjoy it, but I imagine it looks very schoolish.

ZM
It's good to see I'm not alone with this....though it's normally my kids who bring it up while we are driving in the car. They both know I have an extensive math background and they start giving me problems like "Whats 3498 x 356?" while I am driving just to see if I can come up with the answer. My son gives me the problem, my dd writes it out and manually calculates it and sees if I can mentally beat her manual calculations! Then I get to take a turn and ask each of them a math question....we're weird that way.

Another thing happened yesterday that solidified my foot in the unschooling concrete....my son was playing with the chalkboard side of our easel while my dd was painting on the other side. He started writing out +/- fact families on his own and then started to work out mutiplication problems out of the addition problems...I have never gone over multiplication or division with him in detail anyhow....the farthest I've gone is to tell him that multiplying means adding the first number as many times over as the second tells you to (ie: he wrote 7+7=14 then thought for a bit and wrote 7x7=.......49) When he had done that he a light clicked on and he realized that 49 divided by 7 must then be 7 and happily asked me if he was right. I told him "Yep" then he continued to make up his own problems and write out the fact families only stopping to ask me if he got the answers correct. At that point I realized that we were doing the right thing for him. He is my kid that had I sat him down with a book he would have fought me tooth and nail to learn what he "discovered" himself in 2 hours of writing on a chalkboard.
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Old 10-28-2006, 05:28 AM
 
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I'm not an unschooler, but I wanted to point out another game that is ALL math...backgammon.

You use the dice to determine how many spaces you move, you count up how many pips (dots on the dice) you need to get all your pieces off the board, how many pips your opponent needs, etc, plus the doubling cube doubles the value of the game, etc.

It's addition, multiplication, probability, and more. (And one of my favorite games! )
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Old 10-28-2006, 01:16 PM
 
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i haven't posted on MDC in a very long time...just got hooked up again and so i wanted to get involved in some unschooling discussions. since this can sometimes be a place of anxiety for me, i thought i'd start here.

i go in and out of worrying about math...but some time ago my daughter was looking at the calendar and asking what day it was. i told her and she said, yeah only 14 days until halloween. i asked her how she knew that (because i hadn't seen her counting the days) and she said someone told her a few days ago how many days it was and so naturally it was 14 days now. she is 6. just learning to read on her own. so everyday she asks what day it is and i tell her and she tells me how many days til halloween. she is doing subtraction in her head and doesn't even know it...and i'm not about to tell her either (you know turn it into a "teaching moment" and take all the fun away).

so i just wanted to share that. let go of the anxiety and you will start to see that your kids know way more than you ever thought they did. math is everywhere, how can they not learn it.

people used to ask when my first son was real little, "what curriculum do you use??" i always said "LEGOS, of course!!" and that has been my philosophy ever since...even when i have my doubts and go out and by fun math software for them to use (which they rarely do)...i always go back to what the word Lego means...to play. P L A Y P L A Y!!!
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Old 10-28-2006, 06:07 PM
 
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people used to ask when my first son was real little, "what curriculum do you use??" i always said "LEGOS, of course!!" and that has been my philosophy ever since...even when i have my doubts and go out and by fun math software for them to use (which they rarely do)...i always go back to what the word Lego means...to play. P L A Y P L A Y!!!
I was just about to post about "legos"!! I think they are so fantastic and we have huge amounts of the small kind and the large Duplo kind. My children make everything out of them, buildings, vehicles, horses, people, my son has a large lego Mr. Incredible that he loves to play with, etc. I noticed that they started asking eachother for the 4 lego, not the 4x1 piece but the 2x2 piece or ...wow, natural multiplication!!

We are a very mathy family, though, because it comes up all the time and both of my children are far ahead for their ages in math, naturally. It truly never occurred to me before that some families might not be like that. This is a very enlightening thread.

I find that computer games, simple but fun ones, can add math in naturally. What about games like checkers? (visual logical stuff) yahtzee? (patterns, sequence and addition) A toy cash register with money? Some cheap little fun workbooks with math in them, to be strewn about? What about connect-the-dot books with pictures they can create by following simple sequences? Sudoku for children? Marbles? Dominos?

My daughter has been baking since she was 3, because she had a natural love for it and she does all the measuring herself, while we tell her how much flour or milk or how many eggs are needed for a recipe.

If you trick or treat in your home, how about sorting and counting all the candy they get and writing it all down on charts before they eat it? Or splitting it all in two piles, after doing all the sorting and counting? We give our children our spare change, freely, whenever we have some and when they mention that they want something, a treat like ice cream or a new toy, we tell them to add their money up, save it and see if they have enough.

My children loved the LeapFrog DVD, "Math Circus" link and watched it over and over, enjoying the story and really, truly learning as they watched. Our library carries all the LeapFrog DVDs so that is a cheap and easy way to figure out whether you might like to own the DVD or not.

Good luck!
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