Tuesday, September 3, 2013

the end of the unschooling math era

I'm going off on a tangent to talk about Math.  Although this is a Chumash blog, some of you might be interested.  Chana was unschooled math until about 3rd grade.  During unschooling, money, time, and basic arithmetic came up very naturally.  Chana found it useful and interesting, and loved learning how to carry and regroup and multiply and do long division.

Then came fractions.  She did not love them, and although by that point I was theoretically teaching math and no longer unschooling, we eventually dropped math altogether (except for whatever came up--she always managed her money beautifully) for 2.5 years.  In my opinion, that's not a really long time to see how unschooling goes.  Basically, if a child is de-schooling, it could take that long just to recover from the stress.

My theory was that if I left it alone, eventually Chana would either find it interesting or useful, at which point she would learn it quickly.  Worst case, she would take a remedial course in college, and learn all of basic math in one semester.  I'm not sure why I even call that worst case, since it seems like a perfectly fine case to me.  After you've been homeschooling for over a decade, long term goals seem perfectly reasonable.

Now Chana has decided to go to high school in 2 years.  I have decided, if possible, I would like her to take the Algebra Regents (I'm not so up on NY regulations regarding high school, but from what I understand, although mainstream schools are required by NYS law to have regents, homeschoolers aren't legally required because they don't get an official diploma.  They either get a GED, or matriculate into college, and 24 credits is the equivalent of a high school diploma or something like that.  Don't quote me).

I asked Chana if she wants to use Khan Academy or some type of program or if she wants me to teach her.  She said she wants me.  (I would have preferred something she can do on her own).  I wrote what I think she needs to learn on a piece of paper, and she will choose what to do.  Hopefully all this will lead to the ability to do algebra.

Here it is:

adding, subtracting, multiplying, dividing
conversion improper and mixed number
converting to decimals

Positive and Negative Integers:
adding, subtracting, multiplying, dividing

adding, subtracting, multiplying, dividing
converting to fractions

Order of Operations: PEMDAS

Percents and Proportions problems

Area, Perimeter, Volume

adding, subtracting, multiplying, dividing

PS.  I checked out the Art of Problem Solving, which has a free online program, so I tried to sign Chana up to see if she likes it (she refused Khan Academy on the grounds that she despises learning from videos, and since I abhor watching videos, I understand).  The sign up process is complicated (and I passed it along to Ari) so I'm not sure how that will go.  I'll keep you posted.


  1. I get the impression that AOPS is for kids who really like math.
    There came a point with our elder that we launched into Algebra
    just because it seemed like it would be more interesting (more like puzzles) than going over the basics, and it worked for him (we used Zacarro).
    for our younger, who is 10, we were lucky enough to get to borrow the whole Hands-On equations curric., and breezed through it, despite her being quite weak in math. She is now doing cartesian graphing and equations with aba. I admit that I worry about how slow she still is at adding, subtracting, etc., and we are not even thinking about school right now.
    i bought some Bob Olenych workbooks on amazon, which are also like puzzles. she has no interest in those, but i think they are cuter than stam review of mult, div, fractions.
    (i also have a crush on harold jacobs books, sold on amazon. his geometry book is very clever in its setup, and could be good for kids who love and kids who hate math. )
    a gut gebensht yahr!
    lizabennett aht yahoo

  2. you might want to look at family math (http://www.amazon.com/Family-Math-Equals-Series-Stenmark/dp/0912511060)
    for the younger kids if you are planning unschooling for them .

  3. Hilarious that I titled this "the End of the unschooling math era." It turns out that after I taught her algebra, Chen unschooled herself the entire rest of the high school math curriculum up to and including ACT prep.