Unschooling math

We haven’t done math in a year… I mean – we haven’t done workbook math in a year. Schooly math – none. Since those unfortunate 5 weeks in school Lucas’ love of workbooks and worksheets have dissapeared, so we haven’t done it. And I haven’t tried to teach him any other way – he did 2-3 weeks last year in a workbook – morning to night – late night actually – and he progressed from being able to count to 20 to knowing the numbers from 0-100, addition, subtraction – and a little multiplication and division, some basic algebra. In three weeks – when they are ready they are ready.

But there is loads of math in life, says the applied mathematician 😉

And he is far beyond 1st grade level, says the somewhat puzzled mom 😉

And both is absolutely true. He often asks me “what is 2+2” – 4, I answer – “and what is 4+4” – 8 – “and 8+8”? and we go on until he gets tired (he has a million different variations on this). I never use it as an opportunity to teach him how to figure it out him selves. Primarily because it makes him back down – he does not want to be taught, secondarily because I cannot know what he is using the knowledge I give him for – what system he is building in his head, and trying to teach him my system, might disturb his process.  A while ago we talked about the multiplication table – especially because he was frustruated that he kept messing up 50, 60, 70 and 80 – in Danish it is quite hard to learn the difference (also 60 and 70 sound almost the same in Spanish), so I told him that if he repeated the multiplication table of tens in his head – he would be able to figure it out until he had it memorized (he knows the multiplication table of tens because we “jump it” when we go swimming). We also talk about negative numbers because we use an elevator down to the parking lot underneath Plaza de España here in town. Last week he was sitting with a piece of paper where he had written “1000+1=” and he was looking at me – puzzled – “Mom, that equals 1000?” And I explained the concept of ones, tens, hundreds and thousands to him. “Ha – that’s easy he said” and wrote “1001” on the paper.

Yesterday he wanted to buy a LEGO Batman figure. We went online to see if would could find it second hand – and we found one for 95 kr. for a minifigure… And I told him “that’s 100 kr for one minifigure” “No it’s not!” He said, “it’s 4, no 5 less than a hundred” (we agreed that it might be a little too much).  And we got out his piggybank and counted all his money. I took his danish money and distributed the 20s and 10s in one pile, the 5s, 2s and 1s in another, and the half coins in a third. I told him – first you count the tens, and he took all the tens and counted “10, 20, 30, 40, 50, 60, 70 – theres 70 here” and I pointed to the 20 “and there’s 20 more, how much is that?” “80, 90” he said and smiled – he got it! and he knew! Then we counted the ones there were 4, with two 2s and a 5 and it summed to 13 (all calculated in his head). So I explained how he could ad the ten first, and he did, and then the ones – which first came out to be 300, but then we wrote it down and he quickly saw that is equaled 103. He had two half coins – so all in all he had 104 DKR. All this understanding of And he spent it on something he didn’t really want, because he couldn’t afford what he wanted – but his daddy assured me that that was also OK, and all part of learning.

I’ll just ad – that when ever I have tried to “make” him count his money, he has backed down – yesterday were the right time for him, he wanted to learn this or experience this, and he did it. Any other time it would have been teaching. This was pure learning.


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