October’s question: Unschooling Math: If youÃ¢â‚¬â„¢re like me and went to public school, you grew up being taught math from a text book. Now, as an unschooling parent, how do you live math when youÃ¢â‚¬â„¢ve been conditioned to think of math in school terms. How do you go from one to the other?

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**How do you live math?** : One day at a time 😉 In the world that I live in math is all around me.

There are sales taxes to be calculated. 14% in New Brunswick.

Land here is officially measured in square metres but otherwise measured in acres. A hectare is 10,000 square metres and an acre is 43,560 square feet. There are 2.47 acres in a hectare.

Gas is sold in litres. Odometers measure in kilometres. Gas mileage is discussed in miles per gallon. There are 4.54 litres in a Canadian gallon. 100 miles is approximately 161 km.

I have a household budget to maintain, interest to pay on borrowed money, retirement to save for, etc. I’m renovating a house. There are materials to buy, quantities to be calculated. Whether or not we let other people (or technology) do it for us, math is all around us.

**How do you go from one to the other?** : For Emma, the only tool we bought specifically to help her learn math is cuisenart rods. The rods are fun and I’ve already made a fair number of interesting designs and structures with them but I expect she will learn math mostly from a hefty pile of coins and things like lego. But our primary method of ‘teaching’ her math will be letting her see us do everyday math.

Although 13 years ago we were not doing it this way, we migrated to what I consider a foolproof approach to teaching math. Don’t introduce the ‘school’ math until they already know how to do the math. Once they can add then show them paper addition. Once they can subtract then show them paper subtraction. Both geometry and algebra are amazingly easy subjects to explain when the person you are explaining them to is someone who can do arithmetic and enjoys it.

If I were to offer advice to a parent looking to teach their children math it would be to do math. There are an endless number of fascinations and games in math. 🙂

## Author: Ron

Homeschooling dad of 4 (ages 27 - 14), grampy to 3, WordPress core contributor, former farmboy & software developer by profession.
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I second your suggestion. You have talked before about how your kids do mental math. Tigger was taught math in school and is great at pencil and paper addition and subtraction. But when I watch her calculating angles for the geometry we are doing now, I am stunned that she really prefers to write it down to calculate it. I would love to get her doing more in her head but am not going to push it now. We are just getting to the point where she is realizing that figuring this stuff out is fun.

I have met people who were great at math and enjoyed doing it who also reached for pencil & paper to do it. Some who are visual may need to see it to work through it. Out of the two, I would definitely choose someone enjoying it over the method that they did it.