Learning Maths Naturally
"How do children, especially teenagers learn maths naturally. I see how we use maths in daily life, but how do we learn these skills without texts?" Luci
What we do in daily life determines what maths we use and learn. The more we use our mathematical abilities the more we learn! If our lives are rich in opportunities to think mathematically, logically, rationally, recognise and use the patterns that are all about us every day; if we use our brains to calculate, and work out how to calculate mostly by thinking about how to do it, testing and trying out methods we dream up...
"Our children are in their teens. I believe that they learned the basic maths skills when they were young, just through their curiosity and our lifestyle. As our eldest approached her teen years, she began comparing herself to others and felt that she wasn't doing enough maths study. Because she wasn't doing maths exercises every day I could see that she wasn't very confident in her skills and she believed that because she wasn't doing as much bookwork as her schooled friends, then she mustn't be doing enough. Also, none of the children were good with quick recall of number facts (Although they were each able to calculate what they need to know, it just wasn't automatic.)
"What did we do about it?
"We bought a workbook called "New Wave Mentals", published by R.I.C Publications. The children each chose a level they were comfortable with. It provided them with a daily set of 20 exercises, taking about ten minutes to complete. They each liked it and I could see that they were becoming more confident about their skills. The eldest child also went on to study "Teach Your Children Tables" by Bill Handley. As a family we also looked into Vedic Maths. This was interesting and tied in with what Bill Handley actually presented in his book but it didn't give us a lot of practical help. It was more inspirational really.
"In our life nowadays the children are needing to calculate interest rates; calculate area; doubling and halving of fractions when they are cooking or mixing up two stroke fuel; measuring and calculating how much fabric to buy; measuring time taken to travel to places; measuring speed and so on. They are able to do all of these things in their head. They're not super fast at it - this kind of thinking is not one of their greater strengths - but they are still able to do it and come up with an accurate answer. They're problem solving skills are very good.
"Sometimes Dad gets a little worried that they are not as fast at calculating things as he thinks they should be - at other times he is impressed by what they are able to do! The long and short of it is that we are not outstanding in everything we do but we are really good where it matters most. One thing I am certain of is: They will be able to manage their own monies and other needs requiring mathematical skill when they are living away from the family. It all depends on your own level of comfort and what level of proficiency the teenage child is comfortable with."
Maria Droujkova of Natural Maths likens learning mathematical skills to the way children learn how to speak. Learning to speak is:
"... one of the most advanced, complex, psychologically involved learning tasks humans ever experience in their lives. It is more complicated than any graduate level course you will ever take. Yet the success of people attempting this learning task is almost universal. People e ngage in this learning task early in their lives, when they have no prior learning experiences. The task is learning to speak. How is this powerful learning achieved? The features of learning to speak are parts of my definition of "natural":
Math can be like that: a part of our native language."
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Beverley Paine with her children, and their home educated children, relaxing at home.
Together with the support of my family, my aim is to help parents educate their children in stress-free, nurturing environments. In addition to building and maintaing this website, I continue to create and manage local and national home educating networks, help to organise conferences and camps, as well as write for, edit and produce newsletters, resource directories and magazines. I am an active support of national, state, regional and local home education groups.
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We began educating our children in 1985, when our eldest was five. In truth, we had helped them learn what they need to learn since they were born. I am a passionate advocate of allowing children to learn unhindered by unnecessary stress and competition, meeting developmental needs in ways that suit their individual learning styles and preferences. Ours was a homeschooling, unschooling and natural learning family! There are hundreds of articles on this site to help you build confidence as a home educating family. We hope that your home educating adventure is as satisfying as ours was! Beverley Paine
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