Sunday, June 7, 2009


As expected, the part of homeschooling that I am most attracted to is the most radical homeschooling philosophy; unschooling. I've been reading alot about it online and I have also been reading How Children Fail by John Holt. I have been most intrigued by Holt's own notes that were written in 1982 on the original 1964 edition of the book. Holt had come to the conclusion that the best way for kids to learn would be by doing everyday things and learning from the things that they were most interested in.

Last night it occured to me that I could probably get T, my seven year old, interested in doing some math if I used some coins to play some adding games. I first had to show her which coins were quarters, dimes, nickels and pennies. I was actually surprised that she didn't know all the coins but then I realized I had never shown her. Every time I had given her money to pay for something I had never showed her how much I was giving her and I had also never counted the change with her.

I started by giving her a bag with change and asking her to give me x cents. She almost always gave me the right amount and she kept asking me to ask her for more change. Then I thought that I would show her how she was adding each time that she gave me coins. I think she was surprised to realize that she was adding so many numbers at the same time. In school she is just trying to get used to adding 2 numbers at a time. I also showed her that she was also doing multiplication when I asked her to give me 70 cents in dimes. I showed her that 7 dimes was also 7 x 10. T was surprised that she was able to multiply (and so was I!).

On the way to the very cool mandatory (we told the kids they had to go) Renegade Crafts Fair in Williamsburg, T spent the whole time doing "math problems" with coins. She was having so much fun the other girls wanted to get in on the action. After we were done with the fair and we got back into the car T started saying "Let's do more math, Let's do more math!" We kept on playing the coin game on our way to meet J's parents for dinner. After dinner, when we got back in the car, she again wanted to do more questions but I was tired and I told her we were done for the day.

So my first experience unschooling was a great success. T had lots of fun and actually learned a bunch of concepts. Even if I never homeschool, from now on I am going to take all the opportunities I can to teach from everyday life. Not only is it an opportunity for kids to learn something it's also a lot of fun for everyone involved.


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