Yes, I Threw Out the Math Curriculum

Homeschooling Jul 27, 2011 3 Comments

So, if you happened to read Sweet Pea’s blog, she mentioned that I threw out the math curriculum with the television.  She asked me why.  I said, “It’s a little complicated, Sweet Pea.”
I must admit that I like the philosophy of unschooling, but my public-school-self slips into the how-will-they-learn-if-I-don’t-use-traditional-methods; methods used when I was schooled.  You know – worksheets, drills, tests, worksheets, drills, tests, occasional project, worksheets, drills and more tests.
I can add, subtract, multiple and divide fairly well, so public school must not have been that bad, right?
 Right, but the problem is my almost debilitating phobia I, and some others (brave enough to admit it), have of math.  Regardless of my insecurities with math, I plunged straight away to make sure Sweet Pea was better at math than me.  How did I do this?  I used the same approach that made me feel totally incompetent in math.
I bought tested, educator-backed curriculum that guaranteed she would score higher than her peers in math and have fun doing it.  I pulled out worksheets and test sheets daily. I insisted that she do pages of drill problems before she was allowed to move.

This is turning into a true confessions, here.

But I did, and guess what?  Sweet Pea blurted out those dreadful words, “I’m not good at math, mommy, I hate math!”
I threw out the math curriculum with the TV. (the two aren’t directly related but happened to coincide.)
I now spend the time I would preparing lessons (or honestly, trying to figure out the math before I taught Sweet Pea) researching a better way.
In the meantime, we do math differently. We do real-life math.  Surprisingly, it takes a lot more effort and awareness to do real-life math and the retention rate is slower.  I’ve found that it was so easy to plop her in front of a math sheet verses recognizing math during our everyday conversations, encounters and working them out together.   Not to mention playing games.
There may be a time for worksheets and drills but for Sweet Pea, it isn’t now. 
For encouragement I’ve found:
Supporting Math Learning by
Zen and the Art of Unschooling Math by Rachel Gathercole

Dan Meyer: Math class needs a makeover



  1. Amy

    It is so hard to let go of what we did, even if it did not work. I am not sure why that is. Math has been a hard subject for us too. We found Aleks last year which is an online approach and the kids get to choose what to do next each day or when they log on. It might be worth taking a look and keeping in mind for the future. We take a much more relaxed approach now which has helped.
    I enjoyed your post. Have a great day.
    Amy @ Missional Mama

  2. Thanks Amy, I heard about Aleks but for some reason I thought it was for 5th grade and up. Sweet Pea is hovering around 3rd-grade work. I will check it out again. It seems that homeschooling sometimes resembles our spiritual lives doesn't it? It is always transforming, growing, discovering and, most difficult, calling us to let go and relax. Glad you enjoyed the post. Thanks for reading.

  3. Pingback: Letting Go of Homeschool | The Gray Tones

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