Wednesday, April 8, 2015

Naturally Learning

Well in our journey this year away from curriculum and going back to basics with a more Charlotte Mason/Unschool/relaxed eclectic/delight centered learning approach, the fruits of this experiment have been sweet to say the least.  I mean  I know they say "never say never" but as of now I don't ever see myself buying a boxed curriculum again.  If there are certain tools or books we need or want then sure I may get some things a la carte but our days just feel so much more fulfilling, engaging, loving and inspiring without being boxed in and stressed out about the curriculum.  But this isn't an explanation/information post on homeschool styles, I just wanted to share a quick tidbit from our day as an example of "unschooling" and math.  

Yesterday I set out the board game Dino Tracks (a math game) on the table.  I didn't suggest playing it, just set it out on a clean clutter free table to be noticed.  That is strewing.  The kids asked me to play with them so I stopped what I was doing and got on the floor to play the game.  I took the problem solving cards aside and said "these might be too hard for you lets not use them in the game" (reverse psychology). So they begged me to set the game up using the problem solving cards.  One of the problem solving cards required division so I told my 5 year old son to get his calculator (he's been collecting them from the dollar tree and learning addition facts on them for fun he thinks it's amazing and is memorizing the facts as he always rechecks to see if he'll get the same answer each time and he also pretends it's his own iPad/iPhone. lol) and told him how to type in the problem and find the answer using division.  

Today, my daughter that just turned 8 picked up one of the big calculators that was in the baby's toy basket and started experimenting with division like I showed them during the game.  She showed me a couple of the answers she was getting and asked a couple questions and a light bulb went on in her head.  She started to understand basic division without me having to sit down with a lesson manual and try to explain it while we both become frustrated.  She was pretty exciting at her discoveries and continued on figuring it out for quite some time and now she understands a new math concept I had not set out to teach her today but it arose out of strewing, being engaged and flexible to stop what I was doing to play with them and most importantly, her own innate curiousity.  

We also had a math lesson on percentage in the car that randomly came about from another question.  And she totally understood.  

I love it.  I really learned that I can't just sit down and have an agenda tell me to input some specific information into her head on a particular day and if I don't then feel stressed because I'm getting behind.  Because really, I learned the hard way...if there is no reason in their mind to process the information...they won't... No matter how easy, fun, patiently and creative you try to present's like potty training a kid before they are can start potty training as early as you want but it doesn't mean they will necessarily be potty trained any sooner, you may just have to deal with accidents that much longer.  

As for daily practice to get better at Math Facts, we've been using Xtramath and the Splash Math App.  If my daughter wants to use my phone or iPad to look up rainbow loom tutorials or play a certain game, she can if she does her math practice first and she actually reminds me some days to do Xtramath if I didn't remind her because she wants to earn the certificate to print off.  So getting practice with that helps with her recall of Math facts and then like I said, new Math concepts have been coming up just in our everyday conversations and games and some days she gets in the mood for her math book so we will take out her Singapore math book and whenever we do she gets really into it and does like 12 pages or more.  Usually at bedtime and that's why she wants to keep going lol! So I see it kind of like how toddlers eat.  Moms often worry because their toddlers diets are so eratic but then when you step back and look at what they are eating over the course if a week vs how much or little they eat every day, you see that it all balances out and they are getting eat they need.  

Math Strewing/inspiration for younger kids

Dino Tracks
Math War
Card games like crazy 8s, war, go fish, solitaire etc.
Calculators as toys
Geometric pattern blocks
Containers to sort and count their nature collections (rocks, nuts, acorns, sea shells etc)
Rainbow Loom
Toy clock
Rock n learn DVDs time and money
Asking then to check the time for you often
Putting a dollar store calendar in their rooms and they can cross off and keep track of days themselves 
Let them help bake and read recipe and measure.  Take a moment to show them the equivalents.  
Math music -skip counting songs

Apps and websites like
Splash Math
Math Ninja
Timmy's Kindergarten Time

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