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05 April 2007


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I'm on a list with a lot of unschoolers, and they usually don't start any formal math until age 10. At that point, I'm not sure they do anything differently, but are more diligent about using math books on a regular basis.

Before age ten, they usually read a lot of math concept story books, such as the Anno math books, How Much Is A Million, etc? They do activities from the Family Math books. They do a lot of real life math in cooking, shopping, etc.

They also have math books laying around for when the child has interest. Usually Miquon or Singapore.


We homeschooled for four years with no math curriculum. My oldest son is at the top of his fourth-grade class in math this year. We started when he was a preschooler, playing math games. He would beg for them, actually -- stories with a math component, like tales of crazy shopping trips where he had to keep track of how many goofy or contraband items were in a shopping basket.

My goal was always to hit the "frustration sweet spot" -- to give him questions that made him say, "I can't do tha-- oh, yes I can." I also encouraged him to play around with problem-solving approaches. In first grade I asked him to subtract 26 from 54. For the next couple of years he did similar problems working from left to right: 50-20=30, and 4-6=-2, and 30+(-2)=28. This gets less practical with more than two digits, but it worked well for a while and he still prefers that approach to borrowing.

He loves the book The Number Devil -- he's read it at least a dozen times.


I know this is an ooold post, but wanted to chip in--there was an interesting article in Life Learning about a group of unschooled teens who needed to learn a bunch of math quickly for something (prereq for something they wanted to do) and found someone who knew and could spend time with them. He said he taught them through Calc in 6 weeks, because they were interested, invested, and had the abstract-thinking skills, etc, to build upon. Wish I could put my hand on it now, but I found it very interesting.

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I think I read something somewhere about this

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