As most regular readers of this blog know, I am an unschooler. I think children learn best when allowed to follow their interests. I still feel that way – completely – yet I am asking the girls to do enough math drill daily so that they stay approximately at grade level. It ends up being about ten or fifteen minutes a day. They don’t mind it, and have asked for their “school math” before too.
It’s not that I think they wouldn’t learn it on their own given time. I do think that. But I worry that some Family Court judge wouldn’t feel that way, and the more weird things you have going for you the worse it gets. And I’m pretty weird, I reckon. I know I’m paranoid, but we’ve had an unfounded run-in with CPS before and I know what they ask. Is it legal for them to ask my kids “What’s thirty four minus twelve?” No, it is not. Will that fact keep my kids from foster care if some social worker determines on the fly that they are educationally neglected? No, it will not. Hence the math drill. I also want them to be able to enter school at grade level if they ever had to because of some family crisis.
Everywhere else they stay on grade level. We have subscriptions to Ranger Rick and National Geographic Kids; both magazines are devoured the moment they hit the mailbox. They read whatever they want in the kid fiction department, and read Newberry books or quality nonfiction with Sean at night. We have a subscription to Brain Pop as well, which has hundreds of short videos on every topic you can imagine. They write and draw stories and type on the computer constantly. So they stay in the ballpark (schoolyard?) for everything but mathematics. I know they’d get it on their own if I gave them time. I freely admit that this is all me.
I have officially outed myself as an incomplete unschooler! But not really, do you see? If there was no external timeline I wouldn’t be doing this. It’s all fear based, and I’m okay with that. I hope my unschooler friends don’t hate me now. I know the ones who are really my friends will understand.
So after all that, my point. Ahem.
Abby is having a tough time with place value right now. I just printed out some graph paper to see if that will help, to see that ten ones make ten, and ten tens make one hundred, etc. I looked into buying some Cuisenaire rods but they just look like expensive choking hazards, frankly. Lakeshore Learning has some cute little manipulatives that are the same way.
So what have you done to help your kids “get” place value? That didn’t involve teeny killer plastic or wooden bits, I mean.