Monday, June 17, 2013

unschooling math

The 2nd to last thing to go to unschooling was math (The final bastion is Chumash).  I am mathematically inclined, both sides of our families are mathematically inclined, I always felt math was important and not the kind of thing that will just "come up."

Gradually, though, my curriculum got more and more unschooly.  It started because Chana just naturally did start doing a lot of things.  Addition and Subtraction came up normally (and it does with Elazar, currently almost 6, too).  Then Chana asked about multi-digit addition and subtraction, so I taught it to her.  Then she wanted to learn multiplication.  Then division came pretty naturally.

In the meantime, time telling and money came up extremely easily and the kids all get adept at it quickly, because they use it a lot.

We got stuck on fractions in the middle of 4th grade.  I tried a bunch of ways and Chana didn't really enjoy it.  I left it alone for a year and a half.  Eventually, I brought it up, she understood it, I taught it to her, but I began to fantasize about what if she just didn't learn any more math unless she wanted to know it?  I knew it would take her about 20 minutes to understand it as soon as she was interested and felt it was relevant or useful or something she really wanted to know.  So I left it alone.  And left it alone.  And left it alone.  I felt pretty confident that if it came down to it, she could easily take a remedial math course in a community college and get it all learned in 4 months, i.e., one semester.  An unschooled young man (getting an advanced degree in mathematics at the time of our conversation) once told me he never learned any formal math until he took a class in college.

Now Chana is going into 7th grade.  She is making sounds about going to high school.  I think she will need a little bit of prep for high school math.

I have a decision to make.  Should I prepare her to go into the higher math class or the lower math class?  There are arguments for both.

-In my opinion, she is capable
-She has a mathematical mind
-She might be extremely bored in the low class with students who take a long time to grasp the concepts

-Why not let it be really easy for her
-If she doesn't enjoy math so much, why hock her with it
-What's the big deal is she's bored?  So it will be very easy

Practically, it makes a small difference in my plans for the next two years.  The higher math class is for those who have taken algebra in 8th grade.  The lower math class is for those who haven't.  IF she decides to go to school, at the end of 7th grade, after Pesach, we will take a couple of months to review multiplication and division, then review fractions, then learn decimals and percents, and then order of operations.  I will have to decide if I want to try a curriculum or book of some sort, or hodgepodge resources, or make up my own worksheets (I usually just make up my own worksheets, as I'm guaranteed exactly the right examples for the ability of the student.  But in this situation, I might like some guidance in the methodology of teaching, since Chana hasn't really enjoyed it).

If she and I decide to prepare for the algebra regents, then 8th grade will be teaching to the test using the Barron's regents book.

If Chana decides not to take the regents, then I'll teach her the aforementioned skills in February of 8th grade.  I assume that since it will be her decision to enter High School, and she will desire to be capable of taking the math class, that she will put in the work necessary to get herself to that point.

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