Unschooling: Living Without School; Living Free Range-Freedom to Learn What One Wants When One Wants

Thursday, January 8, 2015

No Math

About a week ago I posted all our "unschool plans" kinda an oxy moron....for the beginning of the year. Of course it is totally okay to have plans, but those plans are always flexible. Extremely flexible.

I was talking to my dear Hubby a day or two after I wrote up my plans. I told him I dreaded subtraction. Samantha doesn't like it. She doesn't want to learn the facts. His reply? "Doesn't she know HOW to subtract?" "Yes." "Then don't do it."

So it was decided. We are skipping math this semester. Because that is how us no-schoolers roll. Makes me sound like a bad parent doesn't it? Yea. It does. Go ahead and say it. That's okay. For those of you who see things from my perspective, you know why we are doing it this way. But seriously, what is she truly learning when I force feed her math facts and make her regurgitate them on the spot just because I want my friends to see how fast she is or because I want to make sure she is "up to par" with other kids? She is learning to hate math even worse than she does now. (Truth is, I think she only hates math because I messed up when she was little. At 2 years old, she was better with letters than she was with numbers. When her PAT teacher would come to the house, she would bring math games instead of reading because "She does enough reading with you. She doesn't like math because she isn't good at it. She needs to start doing more math." So, after that, I began talking all about how Samantha isn't good at math. "She doesn't like math. She needs to work on math more." Then I would try to force her to learn more about math. So sad when I look back because I remember trying to make her count bears and do flashcards with numbers because I was worried she would get behind-at 2 and 3 years old! I would get so frustrated and think that she was playing me. But she wasn't. She has a terrible time getting ahead of herself and that can be a real problem when you are doing math. To this day she still messes up when she counts. So relentless practice doesn't even help in this situation. It makes it worse. What I should have been saying to others in front of her was this. "Samantha loves to read. We love to focus on her strengths and what she enjoys." And to her I should have said, "Oh! Math is so fun! I love to count, but if you prefer to read, that is great too!" But I didn't. And the more she realized math came hard to her, the more I forced it upon her, the more frustrated she got. And some days she would be in tears.

Does it teach S she doesn't have to do things just because she throws a fit? I don't think so. (She never threw a fit to begin with.) I think it teaches her that I am attentive to what she needs. Her mind isn't ready for it. Besides, why does she need to be so fast right now? She isn't a computer. She needs to be taking this time as a child to practice thinking for herself. Besides, in a few years she will have more experience with numbers and adding in her own head will become cake. Just like doing Algebra in my head is cake now. Granted, numbers are my specialty, so she may never get that far, but addition and subtraction-absolutely. Without a doubt in my mind. I know 100% that forcing her to do math will do infinite more damage than her not knowing her math facts at barely 6 years old. She is supposed to just now be in Kindergarten for Heaven's Sake! And another point, if she has as hard of a time in math the rest of her life as she does now, she obviously won't choice a career path that requires it. And if she does, well, at least there is some motivation to learn it!

For now we will just focus on what pertains to our own lives. I am currently deciding what I want to learn about. S is still engrossed in her art. And J is still engrossed in his coding. I'd say a little off the path of the new "common core." ;) But learning all the same.

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