“But how will they learn math? Don’t you worry about math?” Those are the most common questions people ask when they discover that we’re Unschoolers.
To answer simply, they will learn math by living. And no, I don’t worry about it.
I don’t worry when my children play with addition and subtraction because they’re interested in learning how numbers work together.
I don’t worry when they ask for clocks and watches so that they can learn how to read time, set alarms, and track how long various activities last.
I don’t worry when my son studies geometry by building symetrical works of art with tiles. Just for fun.
I don’t worry when my daughter figures out how to read larger numbers so that she can find specific pages in books and then checks out math books from the library to understand even more.
I don’t worry when my son explores logic and algebra through coding his own apps.
I don’t worry when they discover multiplication and division and the comutitive property through their own experimentation.
I don’t worry when they explore fractions so that they can understand how money works and how to follow recipes. Or when they dig into chess theory and all the math and logic that entails. Or when they calculate how many resources they need for a project in Minecraft or while they play Settlers of Catan or Monopoly, or when they borrow a measuring tape so they can compare the size of different doorways in our house out of random curiosity. The list is literally endless, because they find new ways to explore numbers every day.
The simple fact, which many in our society seem to miss, is that math is a perfectly natural part of life. Numbers surround us, and discovering how they work is a natural part of living so long as it’s not distorted by forced education. The way math has been taught for years has made many of us truly math-phobic. Math is viewed as something unnatural, difficult, and stressful. To the point where the most predictable objection to Unschooling is nothing more than an anxiety-ridden question, uttered in tones of sincere concern, “but how will they learn math?”
So no, I don’t worry about how my children will learn math, because they’re already learning it in a much better and more natural way than anything I could devise and force upon them. As a result they’re entirely free of the math anxiety that plagues so many in our society. Numbers don’t scare my children, numbers fascinate them. They learn math by living. How could they not?