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Think of Maths as a Tool, not a Subject
by Beverley Paine, Sept 2022
Maths is a tool. Like any tool we use it when we need it. It is important to know how to use tools, or to be able to have the information on hand to learn how to use them when we need them. We help our children learn how to use a variety of tools when they're young and a key to learning this is providing opportunities.
Maths is one of those tools we use frequently in everyday life, so much so that we don't even realise we're doing it. We take these tools for granted. As educating parents it helps for us to recognise where we're using maths everyday - these are the basic life skill maths we want our children to have proficiency with, to help them survive and thrive when they are older. Name these maths skills, talk to the children about how and when you use them, why they help you live independent, autonomous lives, how they help you fulfil your goals and needs. Sometimes it is simply a matter of handing over responsibilities for finances that involve our children to them, or getting them to share some of the responsibilities that effect the whole family. I knew a mum whose 9 year worked out and completed her tax returns... It could be a task as simple as writing out a shopping list to match the amount budgeted for groceries. Think of childhood as an apprenticeship.
For some kids interests are a gateway to learning specific maths skills. My kids were into LEGO, this gave them a foundational understanding of basic concepts that helped them develop their interest in computers as teens, and the practical skills were useful when that transitioned to repairing and modifying cars in their late teens. Building models and making furniture, helping their parents build houses, sheds and fences meant naturally picking up, learning and using basic maths skills.
This is enough - it is a foundation upon which kids can build if whatever they choose to do requires the use of more complex maths tools later. Focus on the basics, build confidence there. For some kids this might mean going back to the beginning - but it won't look like school, usually you only need to spend an hour or two on a fundamental concept for it to click into place. It is okay to pause an activity - be it baking or making a chook pen - to stop and work through some really basic, fundamental maths. It's nothing to be ashamed of for not already knowing or understanding - it's simply learning, happening as and when it needs to.
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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 supporter of national, state, regional and local home education groups.
Welcome to the World of Home Education
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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