Monday, January 22, 2007

More Math

It seems that every unschooling post I've come across in the last week (and even my message boards) have people wondering about math. Apparently after you get the "But homeschoolers need to be SOCIALIZED" argument and the "You don't have a CURRICULUM??" argument, the next question is about math. It appears that no one on the face of the planet (or that I know, which is just about that many people) thinks that kids will learn math if they're not FORCED to learn it. Well, I'm here to prove them wrong (hang on a second, Matthew wants to give me the low-down on his Justice League book). ;)

OK, book report finished. On to math.

When people find out that I homeschool, they ask how long I'm going to do it. I respond, "I'd like to do it through high school but we'll see if that's what they want," and they say something that basically translated means, 'well, you must be a genius because I couldn't EVER teach my kids higher math and science!" - Quite frankly, I'm not sure I can either! But there are groups - there are co-ops from parents who actually liked math and science (some were teachers too!) who will teach these things to high school aged kids in a relaxed style...or be available for questions if that's all the kids want. And my husband loves math and science too and is eagerly already planning microscope purchases.

How does everyone start their preschoolers out with math? They start by looking at numbers, learning their names, counting and adding small things together. Then they send them to school for "higher math" - you know those complicated multiplication and division rules...and please let's not even DISCUSS algebra. So what happens after simple addition? They move on to double and three digit addition, subtraction, multiplication and division. According to division is first introduced at grade 3 (Math A chart on that site).
"Using Multiplication and Division: Lesson 1 – Basic Multiplication Facts
Using Multiplication and Division: Lesson 2 – Basic Division Facts"

Do I feel confident that math and science won't get too hard until at least 3rd grade? Hmm... well...
Matthew would be in kindergarten this year if he were attending PS (public school). This weekend, he asked me if he could have some of his Christmas candy. After I recovered from the shock that THERE WAS ANY LEFT by mid January, I told him yes. He comes downstairs with a baggie of chocolate covered nuts and asks how many he can have. I asked him how many there were.
Matthew: "Five."
Spotting an opportunity, I responded, "You may have half of what's there."
He immediately says, "What's that, like 4 or 5?" without thinking, as most any child would do.
I said, "You may have half."
He looks at the bag and quickly looks up at me: "But Mommy, there's only 3 and 2 - I can't make it half."
So I made the two piles of two and had the last one sitting by itself.
I said, "OK Matthew, now - you have two equal piles. How do you put this other one in the piles to make them even?"
At this moment, Rose walked into the room behind me. His eyes light up and he says brightly, "You give one to your little sister!!" Enthusiastically said because he 'knew' he had the 'right' answer, of course. ;)
With a chuckle, I told him that was one way to do it but what if we didn't do that - how could we make two equal piles? He thought about it for a bit before giving up. I explained that we could cut it in half and watched the light bulb in his mind flicker on. In the end however, he decided on an apple instead because "it's healthier anyway".

Real. Life. Learning. No forcing him to learn math. He had a question...he needed an answer...we spent 5 minutes on it and moved on. But I'm certain that the five minute lesson will be brought up again soon. He was already halfway there, realizing that 3 and 2 were the closest to 'half' of 5 that he could get.

This is how learning occurs in our house. As it comes up. As we live our lives. Math is's everywhere. Science is everywhere. Now the names of dead presidents and their dates in office...that's a little different. ;)

No comments: