math

strangers and family members all have inquired over and over again about our home educating journey. the list of questions i have been asked over these years is too long for any of you to even imagine. by opting out of the mainstream, centralized educational system  we have unknowingly opened ourselves up to a great deal of scrutiny. my thoughts and ideas have evolved and developed so much since we first chose not to send our oldest to school, and this journey is far from complete, truly, it has only just begun. today though my story is about math. math many of you might already know, is the big one. “how on earth without textbooks and workbooks and blind memorization is your child ever going to learn math?” hmmmm. most have faith that we can urge them to read and write and dabble in social studies outside of the walls of our nation’s public or private schools. our farming lifestyle has calmed many doubters about access to most of the critical sciences, but math, uh oh. “your child can identify every tree in the woods by either leaf or bark” but think about the importance of algebra or geometry or calculus.

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so, just a few short weeks ago, we were finishing the high tunnel construction. we were framing out the end walls and preparing the site for a concrete footer. pouring concrete demands a bit of what most would consider simple math: figuring out volume. length times width times depth. we all know that. but what happens when your footer is measured in inches and the concrete volume in cubic yards? getting trickier. conversion. inches to feet, fractions, decimals.

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we adults had at it, some with calculators, others with pencil and paper, we had many decades of higher education between us, countless workbooks and quizes, and truth be told, we were having some troubles. our numbers weren’t working. we contemplated calling the ready mix guys, they have a little wheel that they move around when you tell them your dimensions that figures volume. sasha appeared on site, looked at the project, laughed at us, and got the number right, less than 10 seconds, in his head, no joke.

what? how could he have done that, we all wondered. he can’t be right, but he was. he could see volume, understand the relationship between length, width and depth and automatically convert inches to percentage of yards, it all made sense to him. all of it. he can do math.  his life has enabled him to practice daily useful math skills. with greater understanding he stood watching the rest of us struggle with pencil and paper. so friends, i share with you the wisdom of concrete math i learned that day. enjoy the wandering path of sharing in the education of your children, have confidence in yourself and your family to learn what you need and how you need , and most of all, play with wooden blocks, all of you, i am convinced all mathematical truths can be found in a good chest full of them!

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12 thoughts on “math

  1. that is awesome! yay for empowering children naturally. they know what they are doing, you just need to give them the opportunity. well done!

  2. That is so beautiful, and such a testimony to homeschooling!! We of course have dealt with the same round of questioning over the past 24 years, and are eagerly awaiting our youngest’s 18th birthday when the state of Tennessee will allow him to take his GED so that we can bring the questioning to an end. In the meantime, he has read, among other books, the complete works of Shakespeare, the Iliad, and is in the midst of the Odyssey. Last week he came to a full understanding of the use of the Pythagorean theorem in squaring up the foundation of a house.

    Congratulations on raising your children up so very well, my friend!

  3. Dear Robin, As Lesley’s Mom and a teacher of math, I applaud your understanding of how kids really learn – moving things around, exploring AND being guided by their caring loving educators. I’ve always been a supporter of homeschooling when a family is able to do that. It takes a great deal of discipline on the parts of both families and students, a type of discipline and attentiveness and being in tune with your child that most families entrust to the school system. Many will admit openly that they don’t have a clue what the child should learn at what age and the are glad to have help from the formal school system. I love teaching kids and am very grateful that their parents entrust them to me and work with me to assure that their child learns. The parents are the primary teachers – nothing I teach outweighs the influence of what happens at home. Hey all you homeschoolers, let’s have a mutual admiration society! You go girl! I loved the story and hope you don’t mind if I share it with my teaching colleagues. Sincerely, Patricia McQuade (blocks are wonderful not only for creating – sanding them is very soothing and calming for an energetic child – they can make music, too)

    • you and all others that teach have my complete admiration. it is a difficult devotion that i am most thankful for. thanks for reading and commenting, it is nice to see you here!

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