~~~ BOOK LOOK ~~~
Review & Reflections
Free Range Learning:
How Homeschooling Changes Everything
by Laura Grace Weldon
If you were to only have one homeschool, unschooling, life learning book on your shelf this would be my top pick. It is absolutely worth having this volume on your shelf to revisit again and again.
This book encompasses so many of my core beliefs on life learning and how to raise children (and yourself!) in a mindful and wholehearted way that I just had to write a series of reviews covering the chapters in this book and encouraging other folks to try out this lifestyle.
Revisit reviews of previous chapters by clicking on the Category – Homeschooling + Unschooling search tab on the right side of this page or linked HERE.
In Chapter 11 – Math, Business & Critical Thinking Laura covers more of what some folks would view as the “academic subjects” of homeschooling. She clearly states “Math is Everywhere” and so are the opportunities for engaging with it. Pretty much all that you do can be easily connected to mathematical concepts in some way and she therefore encourages you to simply engage in a wide variety of every day moments with critical thinking, logic, and other concepts applied naturally.
Be sure to try out the wide variety of options Laura offers with both activities and resources and see my reflections below on our own families lived experience and resources we used on our journey.
Focusing on the “Math”of Play, Curiosity, and Our Very Nature
Our work as life learners is to engage with topics of interest, explore curiosities, and quite simply build a life of purpose and meaning through our daily adventures. Connecting to math and using our critical thinking muscle takes on a variety of looks as we each come to it from quite a variety of angles.
Giving family members the space to explore mathematical concepts in their own way has made all the difference in our relationships and their relationship to math.
Up until the age of 7 the kiddos simply encountered math naturally in their daily lives. Working in the kitchen with mom, telling time to know when we leave for a friends house or how much more time they had in a favorite activity, counting coins they received from the grandparents, figuring out what a half of a half was so that a family of four could split dessert evenly, and so many other routine moments where math arrived naturally.
Then as they got a bit older we introduced a few things to provide further exposure to the basic concepts of + – x / and eventually fractions and decimals <see resources listed below>. From the ages of 7-12 they had the opportunity to sit with one of their parents, grandparents, their sibling, or work solo to noodle through various problem/solution exercises progressing at their own pace. There were never tests, they always had the answer keys available to use as a reference, and they each made choices in how to go about this work.
Pressure and rushing were never a part of the equation for math or any other topic for that did not match our family’s vision for learning or our lifestyle. I had already learned long ago in my teaching career that everyone learns in their own time and way even in a system that says you must know something by a certain age.
So you might ask, “were your kids ever frustrated or upset with learning math? how did you handle it? or was it simple and smooth?” Well as parents we probably already know the answer to this. The odds of this process being smooth and simple are not likely, although possible for some. I have always said my kiddos are like night and day in so many ways and it was no different in this arena. Math came easily to one kiddo and yet they often challenged the way in which it was presented. My other kiddo very early on said simply ” I don’t do math”.
We had our moments in which I had to practice patience while explaining again “why” we needed to have some basic math skills and it was necessary, in time, to learn the basics to apply to future endeavors in life. There were tears at times, both theirs and mine, as we did the dance of connection and disconnection provided by math moments. However, some of the greatest gifts on this P.L.A.Y. journey were how we handled ourselves which more often built trust vs. breaking it down. Respecting each individuals learning path and the methods that worked best for them provided daily opportunities to lean into trust and having faith that each kiddo knew their true needs and I was simply there as a guide. Communication and listening were key. They taught me more than I ever taught them. A true gift.
Navigating “MATH” with your child may feel like a challenging labyrinth over the years however follow their lead and trust it will eventually unfold naturally.
And so what is their relationship to math today as they have both feet planted in the adult world? Well the artistic kiddo never felt comfortable with math as it is customarily taught and presented in a linear fashion. And yet they have found their way navigating through “math moments” because they are motivated by their passion pursuits. Does it come easily to them? They don’t seem to think so. Do they manage well enough and know when to ask for assistance? Absolutely, just as I ask for techie help with my computer or someone might ask a neighbor for handyman help. And for the kiddo that the mathematical answers came easy, well we often encounter routine household moments in which a question comes up, they generate an answer, and I will be amazed at how they arrived at it. The way in which they see and process the equation is vastly different from what I know and yet they arrive at the same place or more often are arriving at the answer that escapes me. We are all wonderfully different learners and we all make our way, independently and interdependently.
And what is their relationship to me after traveling this “math path” together? With compassion, communication, and our relationship always foremost on my mind throughout the two decades of homeschooling/unschooling I have gratitude that the homework has payed off and our adult parent/kiddo relationships are still filled with trust and continue to build and be maintained every day.
THE Best Math Equation I Know to Be True:
Compassion + Communication = Building Connection + Trust
Be kind to yourself, be kind to your kiddos. The answers will come, in their own time and own way, both math kind and so much more.
Chapter 12 in this series can be found HERE.
As always, compliment this reading with the authors and resources listed below.
Be sure to support your local library and request these books!
~ Recommended Authors + Resources ~
Math-U-See is an online and product based program originally designed with homeschoolers in mind by Steve Demme & Family that we used at times with the kiddos when they were ages 7-12. [Note: We used the book series over 10+years ago and can not speak for the online version.
Steve Slavin –All the Math You’ll Ever Need: A Self-Teaching Guide
DK Math Workbooks – optional inexpensive consumable offering for the early years
Cindy Neuschwander -Sir Cumference and the Dragon of Pi: A Math Adventure (engaging picture book series)
Scholastic Series – Everything You Need to Know About MATH Homework
Khan Academy – free online classes for all levels of mathematics, business, and critical thinking (for the whole family) especially as you get into the higher level math courses. [Note: We only dipped a toe into these however, we have heard of many other homeschoolers who enjoyed access to these online classes.]
Purchase Here – P.L.A.Y. Nature Alliteration Adventure Guide Books
and join the play-filled journey today!