There is a philosophy within the homeschooling community known as “unschooling”. I’m no expert, but my understanding is that you teach your children without textbooks or formal curriculum. Instead, every day life directs all learning and you simply teach what your child asks to learn. E.g. fractions are learned naturally while making cookies.

There is a related method referred to as “delight-driven learning” in which (I think) your child directs their learning simply by expressing interest in a certain topic. When interest wanes, you move on to a new topic.

I don’t subscribe to either theory, per se, but I will say I have been surprised at how much real learning has taken place in our home even though we have yet to begin formal schooling (textbooks, specific subjects, etc.)

This Morning

Mackenzie woke up long before I did (hello, jet lag!) and asked to play with her linking cubes and colored counters.

When I wandered down later, she had filled up every measuring cup in the house and was happily dumping things back and forth. She looked up and asked me “What’s ten fours?” (She likes to grill me on math facts.)

I replied, “Well, what is four tens? It’s the same thing.”

“Forty, but that’s not what I mean. I mean four plus four plus four plus four plus four…” she trailed off.

“Yep, that’s the same thing as four tens. Forty.”

Her chin started quivering and her eyes actually filled with tears (ah, my sensitive child). In frustration, she eked out “But that’s not the kind I meant!”

So, I sat down on the floor with her and I counted out four lines of ten discs. She recognized that as forty and her eyes just about popped out of her head as I rearranged those same counters into 10 piles of 4 discs each.

The tears instantly stopped. “Do thirty!”

I did, in three piles of ten and asked her how many piles of three she thought we could make out of those same counters.

“Ten! Ten!”

She was right and the lesson stuck, far more easily than I imagine it would have if we had simply turned the “multiplication is commutative” page in a workbook on an arbitrary day.

Don’t get me wrong, I already purchased a math curriculum I’m excited about and I am a firm believer in memorizing math facts, but experiences like we had this morning remind me that staying flexible and taking teaching moments when and where they come is important.

The delight in Mackenzie’s eyes as she watched the perfection of math unfold this morning is one of the biggest perks of homeschooling for me. I have front row seats to a magic show. 🙂


About beanland

Scott is a family practice doctor and Anne is a full-time mother and teacher to three beautiful girls and one boy.
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3 Responses to Unschooling

  1. Kim says:

    I have often thought geometry would have made more sense if they combined it with a class on piecing quilts! Real world examples and application always seem to make more sense!


  2. wendeerosella says:

    Goodness, she is SO smart! What fun. 🙂 You are both inspiring.


  3. Anita says:

    VERY impressive. I’m thinking of doing Singapore math too. How does it compare to Saxon and MathUSee?


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