Welcome to The Educating Parent Beverley Paine's archive of articles about homeschooling and unschooling written over a period of 30 plus years

HomeAboutBlogArticles Curriculum Resource DirectoryShopKids PagesFacebook

Support Groups: NationalSAVICNSWQLDTASACTNT
Registration Guides: VICNSWQLDSAWATASACTNT

Download our FREE The Educating Parent Resource Directories today! Plus... more FREE resources!

Free download a quick guide to getting started with homeschooling and unschooling by Beverley Paine The Educating Parent in this excellent Resource Directory
Introduction to
Home Education

Download for FREE this huge collection of links to online Australian homeschool and unschool support groups in this special The Educating Parent Resource Directory by Beverley Paine
National and State
Support Groups

Essential Step by Step Guides

#1 Create Your Own Curriculum
#2 DIY Lesson Plans & Unit Studies

Getting Started with Home Educating Series of
PARENT WORKBOOKS,
let experienced home educators Beverley, Tamara and April walk you through HOW to create a learning plan that builds on solid foundations that works for YOUR family AND ticks all the boxes for home educaton registration!

Beverley Paine, The Educating Parent 
April Jermey, Always Learning Books
Tamara Kidd, Tutor Your Own Child,
B.Teach(Primary)/B.A.,GCertEdStud

Looking for support, reassurance and information?
Join Beverley's The Educating Parents Homeschooling and Unschooling Facebook online group.

 

Mental Arithmetic and Natural Learning

© Beverley Paine, Nov 2008

I'd like to put in a good word about mental arithmetic. Although it was one of the things I least liked when I was in primary school my children learned maths largely by working sums out in their heads, without using pencil and paper. I learned the value of children working things out mentally when Thomas, at the age of four, asked 'Is half of a quarter an eighth mum?' We stuck to teaching him maths mentally from that point, only letting him use paper once we knew he fully understood the concepts he was working with.

Our eldest child was mathematically capable very young and we introduced workbooks at age five. She raced through the Rigby Module graded books and at age seven began to do the same with the Mortensen system, which uses coloured 'bricks' similar to Maths-U-See. By nine she had begun to lose the plot and had started to believe she wasn't any good at maths, even though she could do the exercises in the maths book with over 90% accuracy. She hated doing the 'working out' on paper as she could often 'see' the answer in head and didn't understand why all the steps, which she didn't understand, had to be written down. We backed off and she didn't do any maths bookwork for two years, instead using maths to solve problems every day but in her head.

At the age of eleven we gave her a maths test for her grade level - which was two years ahead of where she'd left off doing maths bookwork. She achieved 95%, with long division to four decimal places the only sums she got wrong. She had correctly worked out the multiplication to four decimal places, even though we'd never taught her how to do large multiplication sums. She'd never done or seen long division before. As with her younger brother, this was a powerful demonstration of our children's natural ability to calculate and problem solve in their heads. It made me even more determined to allow Thomas to learn in this most efficient and obviously effective manner.

We didn't use a mental arithmetic book or short tests the way I learned at school decades before. I made the mental arithmetic problems as real as possible, keeping them in context with their everyday lives. I trained myself to see and use any opportunity to gently weave a mathematical calculating or problem solving question in here and there, trying to keep it natural rather than making it sound like a test or lesson.

In this way I built a 'hidden' structure to our unschooling, learning naturally lifestyle. Most people think of natural learning as the children simply doing what they want when they want and haphazardly learning what they need to - the criticism I hear most often is that this produces gaps in the young person's knowledge and skills. That's not what we did at home: the structure was there, but it wasn't overt or obvious. By keeping homeschooling records I could see what my children were learning and when, what they needed - or I wanted them - to learn next. I could tweak our learning environment to produce the desired results. Nothing was haphazard or unstructured about it. And once I understood the power of learning in this way, instead of abandoning text and workbooks altogether, we used them they were most appropriate and useful.

I believe that mental arithmetic skills are one of the best tools we have in our brain's 'tool box'. Like spelling and grammar, mental arithmetic is a foundation 'tool' - it's like my husband's favourite and trusty hammer, an owner builder it is something he'd be lost without. It is quick, comfortable, does the job and does it well. Without the hammer we wouldn't have the lovely house we have today. Teaching our children how to use these foundation tools - mental arithmetic, spelling and grammar - in whatever way works best for our young learners and ourselves, is an essential part of our homeschooling lives.

Was this article helpful? Was it worth $1.00 to you? Your gift of $1 or more helps to keep this site operating offering encouragement and reassurance to families wanting better outcomes for their children.

Thank you for your gift contribution!

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 supporter of national, state, regional and local home education groups.

"You've been an inspiration to me, I love the way
you really listen to people."
Vanessa

"Whenever I read your writing I always come away
with increased confidence in my ability to provide and
share a wonderful learning journey with my family!"
Davina

"Your guidance, understanding, support and words of
wisdom changed our lives. We now offer support and
organise many homeschooling events for others."
Lesley

"Thank you once again for your prompt and friendly service.
I am convinced that your books are going to add
quality and peace of mind to my journey of teaching my kids
at home! Just from studying your website, until almost
2am in the morning, I 've been encouraged!"
Louisa

"Thank you for all your many,many reassuring words
over many, many years. You probably don't know exactly how
valuable you are to the Australian Home Education community.
I've been reading your stuff for maybe 8 years or more now.
And I'm very grateful."
Gythaa

Want to learn how to write your own education plans to suit
your unique children's individual learning needs?

Looking for quality curriculum and teaching tips ?

Over 1000 reassuring and informative articles to help
build your confidence as an Educating Parent

Welcome to the World of Home Education
and Learning without School!

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

The information on this website is of a general nature only and is not intended as personal or professional advice. This site merges and incorporates 'Homeschool Australia' and 'Unschool Australia'.

The Educating Parent acknowledges the Traditional Aboriginal and Torres Strait Islander Owners, the Custodians of Australia, and pay our respects to Elders past and present and extend that respect to Aboriginal and Torres Strait Islander people viewing this website.

have your best homeschooling year ever by watching all of the aweome videos from over 30 Australian Homeschool Summit workshops featuring Beverley Paine, Kelly George, Tamara Kid, April Jermey and more

Over 30 presentations!

2021 Australian Homeschooling Summit

For $29 you get lifetime access to recordings
of all the workshops, all associated resource guides, dDownload all video and mp3 files
Amazing homeschooling help!

To see the full range of Beverley Paine's books on homeschooling, unschooling and natural learning visit Always Learning Books

Tap into Beverley's experience through her books

"Your books, your blogs helped me beyond words...
they helped me to find comfort in knowing it is ok to choose
exactly what is best for my family." Nisha

"Your books and information are mind blowing and already
I am feeling good about this new experience." Diane

Connect with Beverley and ask questions
through her online The Educating Parents Homeschooling and Unschooling Facebook support groups.

purchase Beverley's practical and common sense books on homeschooling and unschooling
"Your guidance, understanding, support & words of wisdom changed our lives." Leslie

"I feel specially inspired by Beverley's words and, the more I read her comments, the more inspired I feel, since my need for support, respect for different parenting styles, and information are fully met." Marijo

complete comprehensive step by step program that teaches you how to craft your ultimate homeschool

Australia's best home education consultant, let Tamara Kidd guide and help you prepare your home education registration application or review

Online science lessons for primary school aged home educating children

Teach Maths in the way that children learn with MathsUSee by MathsAustralia

30% discount for purchases from ReadyEd Publications when you use the code 'homeschool' at  the checkout

reset your mindset for homeschooling success with deschooling essentials a quick course to help build your confidence as an educating parent

subscription video art lessons by Australian artist

Home education is a legal alternative
to school education in Australia.
State and Territory governments are responsible
for regulating home education and have different
requirements, however home educating families
are able to develop curriculum and learning programs
to suit the individual needs of their children.

animated Australian flag

Without revenue from advertising
by educational suppliers and Google Ads
we could not continue to provide information
to home educators. Please support us by letting
our advertisers know that you found them on
The Educating Parent. Thanks!

Beverley's books are excellent for building confidence as a home educator says Tracey, homeschooling mum.

Support Centre
Contact Us | Join a Support Group | Beverley's Books | Resource Directory | Blog | Donate

About The Educating Parent
Beverley Paine | April Jermey and Always Learning Books | Advertise with us

Sitemap

What is Home Education Why Home Educate Getting Started & Registering Different Ways to Home Educate
Life as a Home Educator Resources & Support Teens and Beyond Curriculum and Teaching Tips
Unschooling & Natural Learning Travelling & Home Educating Other: just for fun, general, etc Children's Pages

animated smiling face Thank you for visiting!

Beverley Paine, The Educating Parent
The opinions and articles included on this website are not necessarily those of Beverley and Robin Paine,
nor do they endorse or recommend products listed in contributed articles, pages, or advertisements.
This website uses browsing cookies and conducts other means to collect user information in order to display contextual ads.
Text and images on this site © All Rights Reserved 1999-2021.